Street Vendors Face Ousting In Mexico City

Half a million street vendors fill the squares of Mexico City to make their living. The mayor wants to wipe out the vendors, whose businesses contribute no taxes to the city. But the vendors have their own organization that opposes the city's plans.

"Mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants to clean up this town. Street vendors selling tacos, bootleg CDs and cut-rate clothing have converted the symbolic heart of Mexico into a gigantic swap meet."

"His administration plans to relocate thousands of these bootstrap merchants, who block traffic, impede pedestrians, strew trash and evade taxes. But standing in his way is a 63-year-old ex-con and great-grandmother who has her own agenda."

"It's estimated that, in the capital alone, as many as 500,000 ply their trade, providing a sales force for pirated music and movies, knockoff designer clothes and other fake goods."

"The vendors undercut legitimate merchants and shortchange the government because they don't pay taxes, critics say. They degrade urban life by hijacking public spaces while enriching leaders such as Barrios, whose multimillion-dollar organization includes lawyers, accountants, even a publicist."

Full Story: Mexico City's princess and the paupers

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