5,000 street vendors in Oaxaca the story of corruption, unions, and the mafia

The plague of Oaxaca

The agreement of the Cabildo of October 22, 2008, of the Oaxaca de Juárez city council, in which it was prohibited to grant more permits for commerce on public roads was a mistake, as it caused an increase in merchants, said Luis Arturo Ávalos Díaz Covarrubias, councilor of Commerce in the Public Highway.

street vendor plague

He pointed out that although this agreement was intended to reduce the increase in commerce in the streets of the first square of the city, where it is prohibited by the Partial Plan of the Historic Center, it caused that there are currently more than 2,000 merchants working and buying spaces illegally.

He shared that there are more than 30 organizations and individuals who are in charge of these merchants and that thanks to political agreements with past administrations, both state and municipal, they have been able to remain in various parts of the city. 

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The councilor estimated that until 2008 around a thousand permits were issued so that merchants could work on the streets of the capital; however, in 2013 the agreement was violated, granting permits that are not currently part of the municipal register; this means that they are also irregular positions.

Regresan ambulantes al Zócalo de Oaxaca

“They have found account numbers that do not comply with legal procedures to grant them that permit and thus issue their payment,” he said, in addition to having revoked around 500 permits.

Beginning of illegality

The official stressed that contrary to what was expected with the approval of the agreement, commerce on public roads, are also called ambulantes “street vendors”, increased since although citizens have approached to request permits, they cannot be granted for a point indicated in the regulation. 

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“People say: ‘If the municipality does not give permission, out there yes’ and we have seen it in social networks that there are malicious people who do not belong to any organization or have any authority that offers spaces in the streets up to 200 thousand pesos and people buy them believing they are legal ”, he lamented.

He stressed that because the citizens are unaware of the regulations, it has become easier for a broker to solve the problem of not getting a permit, so they end up making illegal charges and believe that they have the legal certainty to stay; however, the authority arrives and withdraws them.

Ambulantes, plaga en el centro histórico de Oaxaca

Arturo Ávalos shared that a merchant with permission pays annually around 1,500 pesos to stay in his space, this depending on the type of position and size, while according to comments from irregular merchants, they pay up to 200 pesos a day for the place they offer them.

“As authorities, we have forced merchants to live in illegality due to this prohibition,” he admitted. 

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Revoke the agreement, the solution

The civil servant shared that the solution to eliminate some vices of the ambulantes is to revoke the point of agreement of 2008, which he hopes the other councilors will share because as long as it remains in force, people will continue to work illegally.

He explained that this agreement covers the entire capital territory, although it was made with the Historical Center in mind because it is a Cultural Heritage City of Humanity, in which street vendors are prohibited only from the first square of the capital.

“If there is a person selling outside their home, it does not affect the Historic Center, but this agreement did not previously analyze these issues,” he stressed.

Luis Arturo Ávalos explained that the Commercial Regulation on Public Roads indicates that posts are not allowed on the pedestrian crossing or in the streets near the capital’s zócalo, in addition to the fact that the neighbors where the merchant will be placed must agree with the installation.

“Therefore, as long as these points are met, there is no reason to have problems with the inspectors, but for the same reason that without irregular, there are conflicts,” he said. 

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Although it reported that the municipality has the registry of around 3 thousand 980 merchants on public roads, it admitted that it is unknown if they are still living and if they are up to date with their annuity payments.

Likewise, he stressed that the latest census is from 2019 in which there are around 1,700 merchants belonging to the 9 social organizations, but illegal ones have not been counted.

Adiós a miércoles sin ambulantes en la capital de Oaxaca - CIO

Ambulantes, the only alternative for survival

The councilor pointed out that the state, by not having industries or companies to generate permanent jobs, only has to live off tourism and commerce, in addition to the fact that around 60 percent of the capital’s residents live in poverty, so the only option is sell merchandise that is often illegal. 

Contemplan reubicar ambulantes en plazas y en la Central de Abasto de Oaxaca

“In addition to this, they are prohibited from doing this activity and opens the door to illegality, that is the mistake that was made in 2008. We have been responsible for occupying the streets of the Historic Center where a regulation prohibits us from installing a merchant”, he pointed out.

The current city council of the city of Oaxaca, headed by the municipal president of Oaxaca de Juárez, Oswaldo García Jarquín –emanating from the National Regeneration Movement party (Morena) – has announced that it is estimated that the number of merchants in the Public thoroughfare the Historic Center amounts to more than three thousand; an increase of 324.6 percent over the base year of 2008.


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Roberto Tejeda, leader of the Independent Urban and Popular Movement that associates merchants on public roads, maintains that in the first two weeks of Oswaldo García’s government, 400 more informal merchant stalls appeared in the Historic Center of the capital; of which it is unknown to which organization they belong and under which political agreements they were installed.

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It also warns of the outbreak of a conflict with the mayor emanated from Morena for the itinerant trade, fixed and semi-fixed. In the first place, because it has refused to meet with the leaders of organizations (there are more than 35 organizations that control commerce on public roads in the capital, according to data from municipal authorities) to propose solutions to this problem and second , because they warn unilateral decisions of the mayor to favor certain organizations

Meanwhile, he reported that leaders of 25 organizations are creating a front to defend the interests of their unionized street merchants, and a probable alliance with merchant leaders from the Central de Abastos.


“The municipal president (Oswaldo García) has not measured the capacity we have to mobilize, those who advise him are deceiving him. We are 2,500 merchants on public roads, now multiplied by two, there are at least 5,000 that we can mobilize; now, with the alliance with the Central de Abastos, we can mobilize up to 30 thousand people

Source: nvinoticias.com, oaxaca.eluniversal.com.mx

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