MEXICO CITY – Officials in the central Mexico state of Puebla said Monday they have suspended the Cabify ride-hailing app after a female passenger was allegedly killed by a driver.
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The state interior department said the Spain-based app was suspended because it does not take appropriate security measures. One official said the measure was temporary, but the state government later said the company's registration had been "cancelled."
The case has shocked Mexicans who have thought of ride-hailing apps as being safer than the country's notoriously dangerous taxis.
But it also exposed weaknesses in Mexico's law enforcement agencies. Cabify said it requires drivers to submit a letter from authorities saying they have no criminal background. It published a letter from the Puebla state prosecutors' office saying the driver, Ricardo Diaz Lopez, had a clean record.
Local media said Diaz Lopez, in fact, was being tried on previous charges of transporting stolen fuel. But because he hadn't been convicted, he technically had no criminal record.
Cabify also said another ride-hailing app that had fired Diaz Lopez for inappropriate behavior in May should have shared that information with authorities, which might have prevented the tragedy.
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The victim, Mara Castilla, was last seen entering a Cabify car 10 days ago before she was found dead last week.
Diaz Lopez, the driver, has been charged with kidnapping, and prosecutors said more charges may be brought. Authorities say he initially claimed the young woman got out of his car despite evidence that she didn't. Instead, prosecutors allege, he took her to a hotel, killed her, wrapped her body in a sheet and dumped it by a roadside.
Cabify said it disagreed with the state government suspension and offered to link its app to a "panic button" that would allow passengers to alert authorities about irregularities. It also pledged to report to authorities any drivers dismissed for cause.
Over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators marched in Mexico City to demand justice in her case and for the killings of thousands of other women. Like other crimes in Mexico, they largely go unpunished.
Cabify noted there had been 59 killings of women in Puebla state prior to Castilla's death and said that telephone and GPS data provided by the company was key to solving the case — something that wouldn't have happened in such a killing in regular transport.
The killing spurred the state government to say it will demand cameras be installed in public transport.