Innovative new business models tend to encroach on the market share of long-entrenched interests, who sometimes respond to their loss of customers by fighting back in unpleasant ways. Ride-sharing service Uber has been a source of controversy in Brazil recently, with recent public hearings that have involved verbal assaults, confrontations, and arguments over bills trying to ban the service. Atlas Network partner Estudantes Pela Liberdade (Brazilian Students for Liberty) is making a practical and moral case for free markets — particularly freedom of transportation — but members of the Brazilian Labor Party are claiming that members of Estudantes Pela Liberdade are receiving money from Uber to fight on its behalf.
Members of Estudantes Pela Liberdade have cited other examples of new technology, like popular messaging app Whatsapp, as innovative solutions that were once opposed in some quarters, but now make lives better.
“This situation is unacceptable,” said a programs associate for Estudantes Pela Liberdade who has publicly voiced his support for Uber. “It is now unsafe for me to use taxis because I expressed my opinions in a public place. And these are the same people who said that we cannot use Ubers because there is no way to guarantee that Ubers are safe. But the situation is that there is no way that we can guarantee that taxis are safe either. The drivers at the debate who threatened us are criminals, and so is this taxi driver we met today."
According to Juliano Torres, executive director of Estudantes Pela Liberdade and graduate of Atlas Leadership Academy, the majority of taxi drivers refuse to listen to different points of view, even going so far as to turn their backs when people who argue in favor of Uber take the stage.
“Estudantes Pela Liberdade and all its leaders will remain firm in our defense of a free society and a free transportation system,” Torres said. “We will keep spreading our ideas, because we know only ideas can save us from the obscurantism of those who still employ violence to impose their points of view.”
Additional information (in Portuguese) is available on the Estudantes Pela Liberdade website:
- “Adilson Amadeu, você não vai nos intimidar!”
- “Líderes do EPL no Espírito Santo defendem a livre concorrência na Câmara Municipal de Vitória.”
- “Ativistas do Estudantes Pela Liberdade são intimidados por Taxistas.”
- “A guerra contra o Uber em Minas Gerais.”
- “Vaias, sabotagens, e censura: como foi a presença de lideranças do EPL na audiência pública sobre o Uber no Rio de Janeiro.”