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City official compares 3 groups of street vendors to ‘mafia’

Vendors are well-organized and rehearsed, official says

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A woman, apparently from Chiapas, sells textiles on the sidewalks of Merida. Photo: Diario de Yucatan

Merida, Yucatan — Some of the strongest words from a city official in recent memory were directed at illegal street vendors Thursday.

Economic Development and Tourism Director Eduardo Seijo Solís said that three well-organized “mafias” operate in the center of the city.

“These groups of illegal merchants are the Chiapans who sell their clothes, vendors of hammocks and huipiles who offer clothes for 25,000 and 15,000 pesos, saying that they are Mayan crafts, but in reality they are Chinese products. Finally there are sellers of flans, who have multiplied in the city,” Seigo Solís said.

During a meeting with 45 entrepreneurs and graduates of the Superior Technological Institute of Monterrey in Club Campestre, Seijo Solís presented programs to attract more tourism to the Yucatan capital.

But when the issue of street vendors arose. Seijo Solis said that he would give his opinion as an official and citizen.

Vendors from Chiapas, mostly women often seen peddling colorful fabrics, are a well-organized and protected group in Mérida, he said.

The women have a rehearsed “show” to make authorities look bad and arouse pity among citizens and foreign tourists, whom they look for at the entrances of hotels and restaurants.

“We already know this show,” he explained. “When the inspector asks them not to harass the tourist or do not pile up at the doors of La Chaya Maya, they immediately fall to the ground and start shouting to get attention. Those who watch the show attack the inspectors, record videos and upload them to the social networks. That’s bad publicity for Mérida and we’re not going to placate them,” he declared.

The men who sell hammocks or embroidered clothes are scammers, he said, overcharging gullible tourists for Chinese-made goods.

In addition, the “mafia de los flaneros,” seen in the shopping district, sell what look like homemade custard dishes or other sweets. He had less information about that group and wasn’t aware of how prevalent the group is.

The city has wrestled for years with street vendors, who compete with tax-paying businesses and obstruct traffic.

An organized group of merchants selling toys and novelties recently agreed to move from a crowded block to make way for holiday crowds.

Source: Diario de Yucatan

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