A travel advisory has been issued for U.S. tourists at the Mexican resort city of Cancun. The advisory was issued by the U.S. State Department after the popular resort city has been riddled with medallion taxi drivers harassing Uber passengers and drivers. Local taxi drivers reportedly blocked Kukulcan boulevard, a main road leading to the city’s hotel district on Monday. This has forced tourists to walk or hitch rides with the police to get through and check in or head out to catch their flights. 

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. State Department has advised travelers that the ongoing dispute between the local taxi companies and the ride-hailing app has sometimes resulted in violent incidents that have caused injuries to their citizens. Cancun authorities shared images of tourists hopping onto police trucks to get through the blockades and reach the airport in time for their flights.

Confrontations have flared following a court ruling this month that allowed Uber to operate legally in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun and other well-loved Caribbean destinations are nestled. Taxi drivers’ unions which carry a membership of over 12,000 drivers in Cancun have complained of unfair competition from Uber. The court ruled that Uber can operate without acquiring a concession generally required by the state’s transport companies. 

Cancun Mayor Ana Patricia Peralta addressed the issue in a message as she tried to assure everyone’s safety and called on the taxi drivers to show restraint. “I am not going to allow a small group to damage the reputation of the resort and human safety,” the mayor said.

Over recent days, social media has been abuzz with video posts of tourists apparently being berated and manhandled by groups of uniformed taxi drivers forcing Uber passengers to get out of their Uber rides. Several local residents also posted videos and photos of taxis targeting a ride-hailing vehicle that was reportedly pelted with stones and dented by angry taxi drivers. Some report having been allegedly beaten and at the receiving end of death threats. Ride-hailing apps have been a preferred choice by tourists given the high cost of local medallion taxis that operate in Cancun, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said. 

Taxi drivers hold a protest in Cancun Taxi drivers hold a protest in Cancun. Photo by: Reuters/Paola Chiomante