Monday, May 09, 2011

The city v the street vendors ... again.

The weekend was filled with conflict in the historic city center of San Salvador. Mayor Norman Quijano, like mayors before him of other political parties, is trying to relocate the informal vendors whose stalls clog the sidewalks and streets in the center. The vendors don't want to go, and as in times before, the conflict resulted in clashes with fires, vandalism, rock-throwing and phalanxes of riot police. The video above from La Prensa Grafica shows some of the scene. The disturbances resulted in damage to both the National Theater and the National Palace in the city center.

An estimated 16,000 vendors sell their wares in the streets around the Metropolitan Cathedral and the central plazas. The mayor wants to relocate them to specific market areas, but El Faro reports this week that the mayor's plan only has spaces for about half of the vendors. In the same article, the mayor asserts that his efforts are not directed at the humble campesina woman selling some mangoes, but at the quasi-permanent structures of wood and steel built on public rights-of-way that are furnished with electricity, water and even air conditioning and don't pay taxes. The Catholic archbishop expressed agreement with the goal of reorganizing the city center, but questioned the strong arm tactics of the municipal police force as they evicted vendors.

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