Taken from NarcoNews:
The Real Battle for Oaxaca: Who is Permitted to Earn Money, and Where?
“The lesser officials manage the street scene, but also the professionals, vendor bosses, who run a crew of ten or a dozen”
By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca
August 17, 2009
A plague of ambulatory vendors annoy the tourists sipping cappuccinos in the Oaxaca zócalo. Beneath the cafe umbrellas vacationers, often with their families, don’t want to be pestered. They have disposable money; smart vendors head for the “whities”. The peddlers, here called ambulantes, have changed. A decade ago I could greet the same few — a family who sells homemade candy, Jorge who sells rebozos, AltaGracia who sells place-mats and table runners—all “inherited” their peddler’s licenses from parents, or so they tell me. During 2006, they suffered —no tourists, no sales. AltaGracia, a vital woman with a nice smile, lost almost all her teeth in the past two years.
D.R. 2009 – Photos Nancy Davies
Who are the new ambulantes? Women from Chiapas, recognizable in wool wrap skirts and braided hair, selling beads and Chinese rubber chickens. Children follow behind, or if they’re nursing, nuzzle a breast and lunch on the go, like busy business-people must. Children vend by themselves if they are over eight or nine, thin-legged, endlessly circling in their plastic shoes. Others Oaxaqueños sell handmade wooden toys, or canes, or plastic necklaces.
On the corners the sellers of raspas station their ice-carts, and the popsicle vendors and soda vendors criss-cross the square.
Stationary vendors descend for any and all fiestas, to set up on the sidewalks their blouses and “hand-made” tourist goods, tortillas and comals for cooking food, oil cloth covered tables and iron benches or stools -a carnival atmosphere. In the background the blaring music. The permanent puestos (the booths which might or might not be taken down at night) smothered Bustamante Street, supplemented by sidewalk vendors with lettuce and radishes and fruits in season. Las Casas Street has been jammed for so long that I think of it as my favorite street, for its “true to life” confusion. The shopkeepers complain, probably with good reason —there’s hardly space to enter.
Welcome to hard times. The slippage of the Oaxaca (and Mexican) economy can be calculated by the numbers of vendors multiplied by the number of fiestas. [read on]