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Uber expands in Brazil

Amid controversy, the company is set to launch operations in Porto Alegre next month

Car sharing app Uber continues to expand its operations in Brazil and will launch in another capital next month - even though is it not necessarily welcome.

The startup will commence operations in Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil, but city Mayor José Fortunati has told local paper Zero Hora that the app will not be considered legal in the city if it is not regulated.

Fortunati said he has not been approached by Uber yet and added that companies "cannot fail to comply with the law because new technologies are coming up" and that his office will not allow the company to "simply operate without a democratic debate and regulation."

Representatives of the taxi drivers union at Porto Alegre have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the news of Uber's expansion in the city and implied that the organization will press for the app's regulation.

Uber has already started to add drivers to its database in Porto Alegre. The company already operates in other four Brazilian capitals: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and Belo Horizonte.

Since its launch in 2014, Uber has constantly found itself in trouble with city authorities. The most recent legal battle involving the company took place in São Paulo: last month, after the city council voted to ban apps such as Uber, São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad has brought in new rules such as the creation of a category known as black cabs, as an attempt to allow taxis and new alternatives to coexist.

The startup refuted the decision, saying that it is not a taxi company and therefore does not belong in any category of this type of service, adding that it deemed the ruling "notoriously unconstitutional." In addition, Uber drivers fear that the new permits will be prohibitively expensive, which in practice will be a way to limit the growth of the service.