June 19, 2014

Citizen Security: Taxi App Registers Taxi Drivers and Promises More Security


If there is one thing that affects Bolivians in their every day life and foreigners who visit the country is the sense of insecurity felt on the streets, especially at night. While Bolivia overall is, in comparison, a secure country to live in and to visit, the largest cities La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz suffer under a significant degree of insecurity because of crime. Aside from petty crime (pick pocketing, etc.) there are other types of crimes being committed such as violent assaults and robberies. Highly ranked among these are the crimes involving taxis. One example are express kidnappings, where an unsuspecting person stops a taxi, gets in and tells the driver where to go. Some blocks later, other people enter the taxi and with threats take the unsuspecting victim on a ride through various ATMs. The victim must withdraw funds. More often than not, these kidnappings can go on for several days. This is because ATMs have a withdrawal limit per day. Not a fun thing to go through.

That is the reason why security in taking a taxi, for Bolivians and visitors, is a high priority. Until now, people have relied on what Bolivians call, radio taxis. These are taxi companies as we know them in the US and Europe. Taxis work for established companies, which have good reputation and good relations with their customers, such as hotels, restaurants, etc. These companies have a lot to lose if something happens. Therefore, they are pretty safe.

This model of radio taxis has been very successful until now. Actually, I expect it to continue to be for the foreseeable future. However, there are some innovations to tell about. That is, in Bolivia now, more in the largest cities, there are two companies that have launched two apps to introduce themselves in the taxi market. These apps are Easy Taxi and Taxi Seguro (Secure Taxi). The two apps work like an app we already know in the US and Europe. First you download the app and register. Then when you want a taxi, you just tap into call a taxi. For taxi drivers is a bit more complicated because they have to register supplying more information about themselves. Taxi seguro goes a bit further and asks photos of the taxi drivers and their taxis and licence plates. That is because taxi seguro's focus lies on security rather than on other factors.

These two companies are pioneers in the Bolivian market. According to some press reports, they have some degree of acceptance in La Paz and Santa Cruz already.


Pagina Siete, Feb. 13, 2014

June 11, 2014

Elections 2014: The Opposition to Morales


On a January 10, 2014 post, I wrote about the possible opposition to Morales for the October 2014 general elections. In that post, I named three alliances/groups/parties that were shaping up to compete in the elections. Today, the newspaper Pagina Siete published an article bringing a bit more clarity on the shape of the opposition.

The report names six political groups/alliances that have been approved by the electoral office to take part in the elections. Nonetheless, the paper casually mentions there are twelve groups officially approved but only mentions the most politically relevant. In my opinion, it would have been interesting to get to know the other groups. For that reason I visited the electoral office's web site but could not find any relevant information. I find that ironic because they do make a point of conducting a transparent process. Well, so much for transparency.

However, we do know, with a bit more certainty (lots can change in Bolivia in very little time), the six most important. Aside from the already mentioned in my post (see link above), Movimiento Sin Miedo, Movimiento Democrata Social, and Frente Amplio, the report mentions the Partido Democrata Cristiano (Christian Democratic Party, led by former president Tuto Quiroga), the Partido Verde de Bolivia (Green Bolivian Party, led by Fernando Vargas), and the Nueva Alternativa Popular (New Popular Alternative, led by Fanny Nina).