CO-OPTATION, COMPETITION, AND RESISTANCE: STATE AND STREET VENDORS IN MEXICO CITY by John C. Cross, Ph.D. CROSS@AUC-ACS.EUN.EG American University in Cairo For publication in: Latin American Perspectives (Revised, 3/14/95) Acknowledgements: I would like to acknowledge the help of David Lopez in all aspects of the work leading to this paper, as well as many other people in Mexico who opened up their hearts, offices, streets, to me during for the research process. I also thank the UCLA Program on Mexico and the National Science Foundation for small grants, and the Fulbright and the Organization of American States scholarship programs for financial support. The City of Mexico, at the center of the largest metropolitan area in the world and plagued with many of the problems of rapid urbanization in a developing country, has since the early 1980s been struggling to deal with what city officials see as a problem of vast proportions: the vibrant growth of an informal commercial sector centered in the streets and sidewalks of the city. Whether due to unemployment or the low salaries offered in "formal" work, about 200,000 individuals in the city were directly involved in the sale of goods or services in the public right of way by 1993. During this period officials attempted a series of legislative and administrative programs to limit this growth with a singular lack of success (e.g. DDF, 1990) until the construction of almost 40 market buildings, housing approximately 10,000 vendors who sold in the "Historical Center" of the city provided a partial, and possibly temporary, solution to the problem in time for the 1994 elections. While this recent spate of construction seems to herald a significant victory by the city against a social phenomena that had appeared until recently to be completely intractable, it still leaves 95% of the city's vendors on the streets. And the ability of the city to carry out its desire to implement similar mass construction programs in other areas of the city will depend on the success of the city's program in the "Historical Center"-- in particular, the degree to which vendors will stay within the new market buildings rather than moving to other areas or reinvading the same streets they occupied before. This paper will analyze the relationship between street vendors and the state in Mexico City as a social movement of a marginal group that uses the state's co-optative mechanisms to advance its own interests. It is argued that the result is a movement that appears to be controlled but which is substantially successful it achieving the goals of its members: public space in which to make an honest living in the context of a lack of alternative occupations. It is not the point of this article to explain why people turn to street vending, but rather to explain why it is politically possible do so in the face of constant state antagonism, something that researchers of the informal economy have consistently failed to adequately answer despite the fact that the informal economic actors they study are in constant conflict with state officials who often want nothing better than to get rid of them--if they can. The ability of street vendors to escape the regulatory control of the state on the scale mentioned above force us to reconsider the "co-optation" theory of the relation between "marginal" political actors such as street vendors and the state. According to this theory, political mobilization among the masses is thwarted by the formation of government sponsored or coopted organizations, typically led by authoritarian leaders, that fragment the movement by forcing movement members to compete with each other for limited resources. At the same time, the coopted organizations are affiliated with the government party--in Mexico the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI)--in such a way that loyalty to the governing party is defined as the only mechanism by which movement members may compete. But the success of street vendors has occurred despite the fact that by all objective criteria they are heavily coopted by the state. Almost all vendors are members of associations that are themselves in almost all cases affiliated with the PRI. The associations themselves are typically led by authoritarian leaders who demand that their "members" pay fees and support the PRI at rallies and at election time. And a multiplicity of associations--well over 300 registered organizations exist that claim from a dozen to over 10,000 members--compete jealously for space and market zones, making cooperation between vendors on a city-wide level impossible. All these factors, according to traditional co- optation theory, should allow the state to control vendors with relative ease. But yet the history of relations between the state and vendors shows that control has been anything but easy. Vendors have defended themselves from rare attempts to forcibly remove them from their market areas with rocks and bottles, and usually succeeded. "Negotiations" between officials and vendors drag on for months in many cases, until either officials give up or the vendors (and their leaders) are offered sufficiently promising alternative areas or other benefits. An administrative order to cease licensing new vendors in 1984, repeated forcibly in 1985, appeared to have no effect whatsoever as the number of vendors in the city more than doubled in the following 6 years. Thus, the relevant question is: why has it been so difficult for the city to control the growth of street vending up to now? In this paper I will argue that the very mechanisms by which the political apparatus has attempted to coopt street vendors into the political system in Mexico have given street vendors and particularly their leaders the ability to continuously thwart the attempts of administrative officials to control them. By only granting permits to street vendors who form or join civil associations that are usually affiliated with the governing political party, the political-administrative apparatus has granted enormous power to street vendor leaders who in many cases have become urban caciques. These leaders are able to use their control of permits to compel their members into activism on behalf of the association, thus overcoming the "free-rider" problem of social movements by threatening to prevent non- participators from selling in their area. Furthermore, the interests of these leaders are often at odds with city officials precisely because of the large number of competing organizations. Not only are their direct interests served by expanding the area and number of vendors they control, which is the source of their income, but they are also compelled to defend their members' interests because the fragmentation of vendors into multiple competing associations provides vendors with the option of leaving any association that fails to do so. Thus, in a sense, street vendor leaders have become not only political but also economic intermediaries between the city and vendors, with an entrepreneurial incentive to constantly increase the quantity and quality of market area they control. This situation has become more complex in recent years because of the political opening in Mexico that has allowed opposition parties to win some electoral positions in the Federal District as well as other areas of the republic. While most street vendor associations have continued to support the PRI, a few have broken away to support the opposition Partido Revolucionario Democr tico (PRD), which was formed after the 1988 elections around a group of political figures who broke away from the PRI. The fact that these organizations can exist outside the PRI does not necessarily mean that the PRI or the state is "losing control" over street vending. On the contrary, the growth of street vending was "out of control" long before the PRD was formed. But it does suggest that street vendors are able to look for patrons outside the PRI when this is convenient for them, despite attempts by officials and PRI-affiliated groups to use their "disloyalty" against them. This paper will look at four cases of competition between groups of street vendors in Mexico City to show how the structure of "co-optation" undermines the administrative ability of the state to control street vending. Three basic themes will be stressed. First, that the system of clientelism provides a model of organizational behavior for groups of vendors who are competing for commercial space on the street. Secondly, that organized vendors can fairly easily find "patrons" within the political system willing to support them in exchange for the ability to mobilize vendors on their behalf. And, finally, that the administrative practice of reinforcing the authoritarian nature of street vendor organizations improves the ability of those leaders to organize the resources of their members for collective action both in direct defense of their commercial zones as well as in providing services for their patron. While in each case city officials had stated policy goals to limit vending and the desire and, presumably, the opportunity to take advantage of the conflict between vendors to implement these goals, they were unable to carry this policy out. On the contrary, in two of the cases, and possibly a third, the number of vendors increased as a direct result of state intervention. Nor was this phenomena limited to vendors affiliated with the PRI. In fact, the only group that clearly lost out in any of these conflicts was a PRI-affiliated group of vendors competing with vendors affiliated with an opposition party for control of a vendor association. STREET VENDORS AS POLITICAL ACTORS Only recently has the political nature of informal economic activity (IEA) been recognized (Sanyal, 1991), although to some degree it was always implied by the definition of IEA as economic activity that escaped state regulatory control. While land invasion has long been recognized as inherently political (eg Cornelius, 1975), the political nature of informal commerce (street vending) and informal transport (collective taxis) have not been studied carefully despite the recognition that such activities could lead to political activism (Bromley, 1978; McGee, 1975; De Soto, 1989. Also see Birbeck (1978:1183) regarding garbage pickers). Yet street vendors and collective taxis have much the same relation to the state as land invaders-- they aim to gain access to a public or privately controlled good through frequently "inappropriate" (viz--illegal) means. Land invaders wish to take over a piece of public or private land that has not been authorized for sale or subdivision. Likewise, the street vendor and collective taxi driver want to take over the street, or to use it for trade, and frequently also to avoid taxes and regulations that push up costs for formal business. Sanyal argues, however, that street vendors are limited in their ability to mobilize effectively because of the high degree of competition between them for space and customers. Another recent study on the politics of street vending from a feminist perspective (Spaiter-Roth, 1988) also argued that street vendors are by nature too "individualistic" to organize effectively. It could be argued however that, in the context of enforced organization and "co-optation", competition within organized groups of vendors can be regulated by the street vendor associations themselves, while one argument of this paper is that competition between associations actually helps weaken the government's ability to control them as a whole. "MARGINAL" POLITICAL ACTORS AND CO-OPTATION The relations between ruling or mainstream political parties and "marginal" groups such as street vendors have typically been described as one of co-optation or clientelism by most studies of this phenomena--particularly in the developing world. The concept is typically defined in the following way: "Clientelism refers to the structuring of political power through networks of informal dyadic relations that link individuals of unequal power in relationships of exchange. In clientelistic structures of authority, power is vested in the top individual (the boss, sovereign, or head of clan) who personally decides how to distribute resources according to personal preferences. When applied to Mexico, this perspective represents the state as a top-down pyramid headed by the chief of the executive branch, who directly or indirectly dispenses favors to those below through complex patron-client relations that link the top of the social structure to the base. Civil society, in contrast, is perceived as a fragmented set of vertical relationships inhibiting the formation of horizontal interest groupings, whether based on party or social class..." (Brachet-Marquez, 1992:94) Cornelius' (1975) study of the political behavior of residents of squatter settlements in Mexico City shows how clientelism operates at the grass-roots level. Cornelius found that residents of squatter areas that wanted to legalize their "de facto" tenancy of land and to obtain public services such as paving, water, electricity, schools, etc., would organize in groups and stage rallies at PRI and city offices, typically espousing strong support for the PRI and key officials at the offices. Most scholars see clientelism in Mexico as a form of social control that the PRI/state apparatus uses to co-opt social movements and to further its own interests. Brachet-Marquez (1992:98) notes, "The inclusionary nature of Mexico's Regime, rather than opening up the power structure to the masses, has been interpreted as co-opting popular leaders and thereby depriving the grass roots of the capacity to voice grievances". Eckstein (1977) argues that the state has largely been able to control popular movements by controlling their forms of organization and their demands by incorporating them into the PRI. Coppedge (1993) also argues that the PRI has perfected mechanisms for controlling "popular" organizations by distributing resources to favored leaders of those organizations when their leadership is threatened by dissident groups, or promoting new leaders when established leaders become too independent. He adds: "... If an organization started to move into opposition, the PRI or the government would divide it, co-opt one half, and repress the other. In the colonia (neighborhood), for example, if a leader embarrassed the government, he might simply find that government officials were no longer responsive to his petitions for the community and at the same time find that one of his clients was becoming increasingly critical of him for not 'delivering the goods.' Soon, his movement would be split between his supporters and those who sided with the critical client, and eventually the former client would replace him as the new cacique. Naturally, the new leader was being encouraged in his boldness by the PRI all along, and after winning some benefits for the community to consolidate his position, he would turn out to be no more effective than his predecessor." (265) One problem with this argument is the tendency to project the PRI-state apparatus or its equivalent in other countries as a coherent and unified actor with respect to the caciques. That is, it tends to ignore conflict within the state itself over the distribution of resources. Research by Camp (1980; 1990) and Smith (1979) suggests that the Mexican state hierarchy is actually composed of numerous cliques of officials that compete for the distribution of government positions and therefore, by extension, the ability to distribute resources and form political alliances with popular organizations. In this light, it might be asked how clientelism fits into this intra-state conflict? For example, while Coppedge argues that leaders who criticize the "PRI" may find resources being allocated to new leaders, is it possible for competing cliques within the state hierarchy to compete for control of powerful popular organizations or their constituencies by distributing resources to different leaders among those groups? Furthermore, while students of Mexican popular movements have generally argued that true "new" social movements reject co- optative relations with the PRI (e.g. Foweraker, 1990), is it possible that these new movements are developing within the context of governing parties as marginal groups manipulate the system in their own interest? As I will argue, government officials do attempt to control street vendor leaders in the manner that Coppedge describes. However, they are not always successful. In fact, I will argue that the co-optative system itself provides a model that vendors can use to respond effectively to the administrative system which, combined with the structure of co-optation, actually gives vendors substantial power to resist city policies. On the one hand, by imposing an authoritarian organizational model on street vendors, the authorities give leaders the power to manipulate vendors to advance their political objectives. But the very competition between the hundreds of leaders of street vendor organizations throughout the Federal District--competition for both space and members--means that leaders cannot reduce their own interests to the interests of their patrons. They have to produce tangible "goods" for their members--lucrative space on the street--or be left without followers as vendors "vote with their feet" to go to other areas to sell. METHODOLOGY Data on these four areas of conflict was collected as part of a broader research project on the politics of street vending in Mexico City carried out between 1991 and 1993. The research involved interviews with most of the major leaders of street vendors, including Guillermina Rico, Fernando Sanchez and Alejandra Barrios as well as interviews and observation in street markets controlled by these leaders. In addition, interviews with officials at a number of the "delegations" (local administrative districts) of Mexico City and the Coordinaci"n de Abasto Popular del Distrito Federal (COABASTO), responsible for popular markets, were carried out. Archival research at COABASTO also provided a wealth of data about plans to limit and relocate street vendors, as well as the procedures street vendor organizations used to deal with officials. Observation of these four areas was initiated in order to understand the process of conflict between street vendors and the city by looking at cases in which street vendors struggled for recognition. In one of the cases I became aware of the conflict because of newspaper coverage, and then followed up on it by interviewing the vendors involved. In two cases, I was already involved in research on the area when the conflict emerged. The fourth case emerged from the files at COABASTO. Except for this last case, I followed the conflict by attempting to get in touch with the leaders and vendors involved on each side of the conflict, as well as with city officials. Data was collected through unscheduled interviews and observations of daily activity and meetings that stretched until the conflicts were finally resolved--about a year in each case. Because of the "accidental" nature of the selection of these cases, no claim can be made that they are "representative" of the different street vendor organizations in Mexico City. However the pattern of political behavior in each case and the similarity with other cases reviewed in the archives or in life history interviews with established leaders indicates that, while the specific street markets may not be typical, the political processes themselves are. More than cases studied by themselves, these are presented as examples of the broader political patterns that emerged during that research project. FOUR CONFLICTS OVER SPACE The high level of organization of street vendors in Mexico City seems to provide ample evidence that co-optation has been immensely successful. Of the approximately 200,000 regular street vendors in the city, at least 95% are members of "civil associations" that are supposed to represent them in negotiations with city officials. Of these the vast majority are affiliated with the "popular sector" of the PRI. This is hardly surprising when it is considered that street vending is considered illegal by city officials but "tolerated" under an administrative system that specifies that vendors be a member of an established and officially recognized organization of vendors. Administratively, this policy is designed to limit the growth of vending and simplify the procedures for controlling it, since officials can negotiate with the leaders of the organizations who are then entrusted with the task of enforcing limits on their members. At the same time, by dealing only with the leader of each organization, this policy tends to cement the leaders in their positions since they are the only ones within each organization to have direct access to officials and political allies. However, this policy also gives the leader substantial power not only over their own members--vendors who do not submit to their authority can be ejected from the market--but also relative to the same officials who create them. That is, they can use their membership base politically and financially to outmaneuver low-level officials encharged with controlling them and to appeal to higher level administrators and politicians, effectively establishing clientelistic relations that undercut the administrative power of the city. Politically, the organization of vendors has benefitted the official party since, typically, affiliation with the PRI has been the best guarantee of receiving the required "tolerances" from the city. While vendor organizations affiliated with the PRI constantly refer to their "loyalty" to the party in their correspondence (and often attack the "loyalty" of their opponents, even if they are also PRI affiliated), mere affiliation has never been sufficient. Vendor organizations, like all other popular organizations, have always required the support of key individuals--patrons--who could push their claims through and usually over the bureaucratic process. To the extent that political opening has created a number of political figures in opposition parties who have substantial contact with officials-- particularly the PRD which began as a splinter movement of left- wing elements of the PRI itself--vendors affiliated with opposition parties can also benefit from this process. The following discussion will briefly relate the history of four conflicts between rival groups of vendors. The first two cases show conflict between entirely separate groups of vendors, one powerful and well-established and the other originally "unorganized" and without any official recognition. While it might be expected that the confluence of a powerful interest group with state interests would easily overpower a small, unorganized group of vendors, in each case the unorganized vendors were able to organize and search for political supporters and ultimately achieve recognition of their "right" to sell in the street. Specifically, it will be argued that the threat of removal created and strengthened organization among the vendors, while the multiplicity of potential "patron" allies allowed them the means by which to defend their areas. The third and fourth cases represent conflicts within an established organization in which rebel vendors attempted to wrest control of the area or the organization itself from the established leaders. These cases show the tendency of city officials to reinforce the power of vendor leaders over their members. Here also we are able to see the role of political affiliation in the dynamics of street vendor politics: in one case the established leader is affiliated with the PRI while the rebels were affiliated with the PRD, in the other the affiliations are reversed. While city officials tended to initially favor the PRI-affiliated groups, support for the established leader--whether belonging to the PRI or the PRD--was in the long run more important. Indeed, the PRI-affiliated rebels were defeated while the opposition-affiliated rebels were largely successful. Thus, while city officials attempted to use the conflicts to limit the total numbers of vendors in each area and to favor groups affiliated with the PRI, they were not successful on either count. On the contrary, the number of vendors grew in those areas where city officials tried most to limit them, and both PRD-affiliated groups of vendors were eventually successful. More importantly, the structural dynamics of city/vendor relations, dynamics largely created by the "co-optative" mechanisms themselves, in each case lead to the solidification of the role and strength of the vendor leaders both with respect to their fellow vendors and with respect to city officials themselves. Furthermore, except in the last case, the conflicts between the street vendors were solved in such a way that both sides of each conflict won, the loser in each case being only the city's policy to limit street vending. "EL CENTRO" "El Centro" is an old slum area of Mexico City near the Historical Center with roots stretching back to the pre-hispanic era. A vibrant street market was wiped out in the late 1950s when the city built markets for over 7,000 vendors. Since the early 60s, however, the street market crept back until the area again became a market hub for the entire city, with some street stalls reportedly valued at over USD $30,000. When the city built a major thoroughfare through the area in the early 80s, officials tried to prevent it from being used for street trade by signing a formal agreement with the 22 vendor organizations in the area. In exchange for formal recognition of their market zones, they promised not to invade new streets nor the sidewalks of the thoroughfare. However, by 1992 five new organizations had been recognized in the area, several on the thoroughfare itself, which was also being slowly taken over by the more established organizations which had more than doubled the number of vendors in the region to 10,000. Partly because of the self-identification of the area itself as "different" from the rest of the city and partly also because of its nature as a market area with strong neighborhood ties, El Centro's street markets always had a strong sense of identity. Thus, since the 60s the organizations had generally formed neighborhood-wide confederations to increase the power of vendors in the area relative to the authorities, although they fluctuated between forming a single confederation or a pair of opposing coalitions. At the time of the research, in 1992, one confederation, called below "the Confederation", grouped together 80% of the organizations and vendors in the area while another, referred to below as "the Coalition" grouped the rest (CETEPI, 1991). Both were affiliated with the PRI, although the Confederation boasted contacts with the city administration and the Coalition spoke of its contacts within the PRI itself. The first conflict studied emerged in a two-block stretch of sidewalk on the thoroughfare. The Confederation, led by Se$or Marcos, leader of the largest vendor organization in the area, appealed to city officials to remove a small group of 30-40 unorganized vendors who they claimed were competing "unfairly" with their own members, who rented store fronts from the city on the same sidewalk. To back up their claim they pulled out their copy of the previous agreement, long since forgotten and ignored by city officials and vendors alike. The unorganized vendors were initially at a loss when they were removed by city employees who claimed that the entire thoroughfare was being cleared of vendors. When no other vendors were removed (indeed, another group arranged to pave over the street's planted border at this time) they began to protest. One of the vendors, a forceful woman called Elena who knew some of the other leaders, began to emerge as a leader. Looking for allies, Elena at first asked for the support of a local official who was also on the governing committee of another vendor organization. However, this official tried to use them to take over leadership of her own organization, threatening to embroil them in a conflict with another powerful group of vendors in the area. Switching sides, they aligned with the Coalition, which helped them to organize as a civil association, and put them into contact with some officials in the PRI. During this period they tripled their membership, adding 90 new members with the promise that, if they were successful, they would have access to one of the most lucrative areas of street vending in the city. They held a constant vigil in the area which they claimed to be rightfully theirs under the rule of "de facto" occupation, although they were only able to sell on occasional days when the vigilance of city officials was reduced, and they staged several protests at city offices and even the presidential residence, hoping for audiences with high-level officials, which were always denied. For its part, the Confederation also staged several rallies, claiming to represent the interests of the city in preventing "new invasions" of the city's streets. But Se$or Marcos made a fatal error when, in response to an insult from one of the new vendors, he arranged a "show of arms" in which hundreds of his members were photographed wielding poles and machetes to intimidate the new group. Responding to the threat of violence, and prompted by the support Elena was getting from the Coalition and the PRIist officials, the city began to negotiate with the new vendors. Within a month they were allowed to occupy a side street off the thoroughfare. While the area was not immediately sufficient to hold all their new members, nor as potentially lucrative as the area they were forced to leave, it represented a base from which they were able to successfully expand in the following months as they became integrated into the political system. "THE TIANGUIS" The second case also concerns two groups of vendors affiliated with the PRI, although in this case in a middle class residential suburb in the south of the city. In late 1985, an authorized tianguis complained to a city-wide agency, encharged with reducing the level of street vending, about a group of street vendors who were selling on a daily basis near one of their work sites, cutting into their sales. The agency began making inquiries, and concluded that the new group of vendors would have to be removed because of a ban on new vendors and organizations that had been ordered by the city government in 1984. They proposed that the vendors be absorbed into one or more of the surrounding tianguis locations and removed them from the area. In January of 1986, however, a congressman wrote to the director of the agency claiming that neighbors of the street market had complained to him about the vendors being removed, and he requested that they be returned. A week later, in a meeting with lower officials at the agency, who still insisted that the vendors be relocated (indicating they hadn't received any directions to the contrary from the director), the vendors argued that, in a meeting between the congressman and the director, the latter had agreed to recognize them as an independent association, provided that they formed a civil association and elect a board of directors. In a second meeting in which the director and the congressman participated the new group was authorized to sell in the location they had been occupying for four years without any permit. The leader of the established tianguis reacted harshly, asking sarcastically in a formal letter to the delegation: "...that you make clear to us whether the suspension of authorizations is still current, since we consider it unjust that a group of (unorganized) vendors...be recognized as a tianguis...considering that we vendors in tianguis have more rights to new authorizations since we support the program of the (government) and are disciplined with our party..." As in the first case the removal of an unregistered group of vendors was requested by an established group, affiliated with the PRI, that had a 15 year old permit in the area. Furthermore, in each case the removal of the vendors was clearly authorized and required by the law as well as the administrative policies of the agencies in question. However, by finding a political ally within the PRI with a close connection to high officials in one of the regulatory agencies, the unregistered groups were authorized to continue selling despite the fact that by doing so, the agencies and officials had to break a direct administrative order to recognize no new groups of vendors. Support for their patrons was an implicit part of each episode: In the first case, Elena group was used to support the election of PRI officials while in the second both the politician and the official were elected to new offices in the 1988 elections--the congressman moving to an important position in the newly formed Asamblea de Representantes del Distrito Federal (the Federal District's local council--ARDF) and the director of the agency to the Federal Congress. STATION PLAZA The third conflict occurred in the exterior plaza of a downtown metro station where a large street market had sprung up to take advantage of the constant flow of passengers spewing out of the station into local offices. The vendors, about 140 individuals, were controlled by Do$a Maria, a leader recognized by city officials for her brutal practices towards her vendors. In late 1991 the city started to discuss plans to build a market for the vendors in the plaza, and she began to increase their fees to "protect" their interests and to take into account the added potential value of the market. When 120 of them decided to reject her leadership, they thought they would be able to lay claim to the area in which they were selling. The leader sent several groups of men to intimidate them, leading to fights and prompting the city to remove all of the vendors to prevent further violence. However, instead of allowing the rebel vendors to occupy the area, city officials dragged on "negotiations" with Do$a Maria, offering to allow the rebels to set up their market in another area of their choosing in the meantime. The rebels, who expressed their contempt for vendor leaders by refusing to designate their own leader for some time, decided to set up in front of the ARDF as a political statement and at the same time appealed for advice to the leader of a large "popular" organization affiliated with the PRD, comprised mostly of land-invader groups. The first move got them a lot of positive attention in the press and from assembly members. The second won them many enemies in the administration, especially since Do$a Maria used their "advisor's" affiliation against them. When they were unable to get favorable attention from low- level officials, they staged several protests at the Delegation, at one point organizing a brief "sit-in". This combination of protests and their advisor's support slowly had an effect, but they were also forced by administrators to designate a single "leader"--they chose a juice vendor named Pedro--to speak for the group. First, the vendors were allowed back into the plaza, but behind several hundred new vendors who had been given stalls by Do$a Maria in order to fill-up the area they had occupied before. This position was far from ideal, but the worst problem was that city officials refused to allow the rebel vendors to purchase stalls in the new market that had been planned over the previous year with the old leader. Officials argued that the market, although planned, built and financed by the city, had been negotiated with Do$a Maria and "belonged" to her. If they wanted space in the market, they would have to deal with her. Knowing the reception they would get, the rebel vendors pushed for their own slots in the market. Fortuitously at this point, responding to a political crisis dealing with the market construction program, the Regent of the Federal District, under pressure from President Salinas, formed a new office encharged with coordinating market construction, taking this power away from the Delegation. Pedro and his vendors appealed to the new office where their advisor had some contacts and which was in any case under strong pressure to move the market program along at any cost. Thus, the new office immediately allotted stalls for Pedro's vendors, ignoring the protests by Do$a Maria. Still, the areas allowed for their members were in the worst part of the market, and the officials insisted for several months that this was necessary. Finally the rebels threatened to simply prevent the market, which was designed to be a showcase for the entire "Historical Center" market relocation project, from opening. They got their wish and received better locations. CANAL MARKET The "Canal Market" is a Sunday tianguis located in a commercial area on the edge of the Federal District bordering several densely occupied municipalities of the State of Mexico. Beginning in the late 60s as a scrap metal market occupying a street next to an open sewage canal, the market expanded until it filled large areas of the neighborhood with over 10,000 vendors selling everything from scrap metal to clothes and electronics. At the same time, the original market organization split into several organizations, with rival leaders simply setting up markets in different areas of the neighborhood until it was filled virtually to capacity. In the early 80s the leader of one of these splinter organizations, Don Jacobo, was accused of fraud by his members and jailed. An elderly couple, Don Francisco and Do$a Marta, who had been on Jacobo's governing committee, took over leadership. When Don Jacobo left jail and tried to resume control of the 500- strong organization, the couple refused, arguing that he would simply abuse the vendors again. However, he managed to persuade some of his old followers to ignore the couple, and thus prevented them from establishing complete control over the market. Still, Don Francisco and Marta were supported by the Federation to which the tianguis belonged. But in 1988 Don Jacobo's fortunes improved when the Federation, itself the largest such federation in the Federal District with almost 10,000 members, broke away from the PRI to support Cuauhtemoc C rdenas in that year's presidential elections. Hoping to secure the full support of the PRI, Jacobo renewed the association's old affiliation with the PRI under his own name. Even then, however, the combination of his own checkered past and the support of the Federation behind Don Francisco meant that officials continued to ignore him. Nevertheless, he still provoked enough problems within the organization to prevent Don Francisco from fully controlling the market and making many vendors worry that, in light of rumors of construction on the canal, if the government were to clear the area they might not get the protection that they needed because of the squabble over leadership. In this atmosphere, a more serious challenge was made by a splinter group of Jacobo's followers who, claiming that neither leader represented the market, formed their own leadership clique, perhaps hoping to take advantage of the confusion. A proliferation of flyers from each of the three leadership groups flooded the market as each claimed that it represented the best interests of the vendors. The new group called several meetings at the PRI's local offices and claimed to have been elected by the members, although very few of the 500 members ever went to the meetings. They also boasted of having support from the PRI and key officials, although officials I spoke with claimed they had merely been presented to them by a congressman who appeared to be supporting them. For his part, Don Francisco frequently went to the Federation to urge them to intervene with officials on his behalf. With the Federation backing up Don Francisco, the local PRI office didn't feel secure enough to support the new leadership clique without proof that they enjoyed support in the market. Thus, the new group was obliged to call a new meeting to "confirm" their election as the official representatives of the market, this time with the attendance of PRI officials and neighboring leaders. An official from a city agency was also invited, but left before the meeting began upon seeing that it was sparsely attended. Only 50 vendors arrived. When a visiting leader pointed out that this was not a quorum of the 500 members of the organization, he was hissed and pushed out of the room. Despite the fact that the new clique claimed reelection at the meeting, it was a dismal failure. The following week Don Francisco was elated, claiming that he had won a great victory and would be able to consolidate his hold over the market. DISCUSSION Two general effects of conflict between the state and street vendors emerge from these case histories. First, as is shown most dramatically in the first and third cases, in order to increase their ability to enforce their claims, leaders are likely to increase their membership by offering spaces to other individuals if they join in the general struggle. "Free rider" problems, on the other hand, one of the central problems in social movement theory (Klandermans, 1991) are largely eliminated by threatening to eject from the group any vendors who do not participate in this struggle. For example in "El Centro" daily roll-calls were held during the period in which the vendors were unable to sell to make sure they were all guarding their area. Likewise, in the "Canal Market" each leader took advantage of rumors of massive public works in the area to persuade members to sign up with them so that they would be "taken care of" in the case of a relocation. Secondly, the fact that city officials insisted that a single leader represent the group, and therefore that negotiations and the search for political allies were generally handled by the leader, gave this individual increasing power over their fellow vendors. A few months after the "El Centro" vendors were settled in their new location many of the most active participants in the struggle bitterly complained to me of the way that the leader had taken over the organization, relegating them to the status of mere dues-payers. In another case in which a group of vendors successfully negotiated a compromise with officials who attempted to remove them, the relation between the leader and officials was made patently clear for this observer when a vendor appealed to the officials to force the leader to give her a better stall location within their new area. Rather than supporting the vendor, the official threatened to remove her altogether, "Whenever (the leader) gives the word". This growing authoritarianism within the vendor organizations can be argued to benefit the organization as a whole, however, since it allows the leader to manipulate the full financial and political resources of the membership in the search for political sponsors. While, as noted above, no claim is made for the "representativeness" of these four sets of organizations, the case histories are clear examples of the pattern of political processes that emerged from interviews with officials, vendors and leaders, the study of archival sources as well as personal observations in dozens of other cases throughout the city. The success of these groups demonstrates that clientelism has not come cheap in the City of Mexico. Rather than the state or even the PRI "controlling" client groups, vendors seem to have remarkable success in getting what they want--commercial space and a livelihood--for a comparatively low cost. The question to answer, then, is why is this so? Coppedge (1993) argues that political pluralism in Venezuela weakens the effect of clientelism as compared to Mexico. What he perhaps overlooks is the potential for client groups to take advantage of competition between cliques within the PRI. But this can only be true if client groups can take advantage of such competition--that is, if they are not tied too firmly to the interests of any one group within the competitive political structure. Therefore, it is tentatively argued that vendors, because of their unique form of organization, are able to take advantage of such competition whereas other groups within Mexico cannot. One aspect of vendor organization that seems to make this possible is, paradoxically, its very competitive nature. Rather than being organized into a single large political movement, vendors are divided into a multiplicity of organizations that by their nature compete with each other for commercial territory. By mediating in these territorial conflicts, the city is compelled to recognize the "de facto" rights of the vendors to occupy the areas they control, first by favoring one group over the other, and then by recognizing the rights of the second group in a "compromise" that assigns it an area of its own to prevent further conflict. As one government official and vendor was fond of telling me with regard to "El Centro": "Here we have two confederations: one plays the good guy and one the bad guy. And they both win. It works better that way." Secondly, because of their competitive nature, each leader is wary of negotiations with the city that may reduce the size or commercial value of their territory because, in the end, they only control space, not individual vendors. If a leader were to accept relocation into a non-lucrative area his or her vendors could simply leave for other market areas controlled by other leaders. Likewise, each leader has an incentive to expand their areas in order to increase the size of their organizations, which increases both their cash flow and their political power. Thus, even an agreement to limit their expansion, if obeyed, could have negative long-term effects, since it would allow other leaders to expand around them and take territory that could have been theirs. In a sense, leaders are businesspeople who negotiate with officials for commercial rights that they resell to vendors. Thus, the competitive nature of vendor organizations leads to a system of political and commercial entrepreneurship in which leaders constantly strive to provide better and more "space" for vendors and are thus unable to absorb the costs of controlling their members for the benefit of the state. Thirdly, the competition between organizations leads to multiple competitive "linkages" between vendors and the state. When organizations compete, they each search for alternative patrons within the administrative-political structure. In the long term, such multiple linkages benefit vendors as a whole since on the one hand they become more difficult for city officials to control (and indeed, agencies have to spend their energy simply mediating between them) and on the other, even if some "patrons" fall from favor and become unable to effectively push for their clients' demands, the law of averages dictates that others will be on the ascendence. Thus, at any one time at least some vendor groups will have powerful patrons able to push for their interests. An example of the ability of multiple competing organizations to resist state policies is given by Parnell (1992) in a study of Sama Sama, a squatter community in Manila, Philippines. Parnell argued that one of the most important resistance techniques used by squatters was to provoke disagreements among themselves. He argues: "By escalating their disputes with their opponents, rather than acquiescing to or appealing to their common identities and problems, Sama Sama fomented the expansion of governmental plans for housing projects while at the same time decreasing the likelihood that the government would be able to implement those projects (as a result of increased squatter resistance). In other words, through actively engaging their squatter opponents in disputes, Sama Sama increased squatter participation in the movement to create time for the grassroots evolution of squatter communities." (168) At first sight it seems counter-intuitive that politically marginal groups could more effectively resist state policies by dividing their meager resources and energy among rival organizations. After all, isn't it organization that produces social power? However, it must be kept in mind that the "resisters" that Parnell refers to, and the street vendors in this study, are not trying to assert their power over the state. Rather, they are trying to prevent the state from using its power against them. In other words, since they cannot control the social power embodied in the state, their best alternative is to restrict the power of the state over them by becoming disorganized and thus reducing the ability of the state to manipulate them. Organizations exist, but within a fragmented movement. If the state attempts to co-opt or negotiate with one of these organizations, it will run into opposition from the rest, and thus be thwarted in its attempts to control the movement. Thus, while their disorganization prevents the movement from being able to shape state policy directly (a power it is unlikely they would have in any case), it allows them to shape state policy indirectly by preventing unfavorable policies from being implemented and forcing the state to allow them to operate with limited state interference. It is precisely this ability to organize within multiple competing organizations within an overall social movement that makes street vending so difficult to control in Mexico City. By organizing locally, rather than at the city-wide or regional level, vendors are able to escape corporative control while still retaining the benefits of organization where it counts--at the local level. Rather than organizing to change city policy towards vending as a whole, vendors have been able to thwart or bypass the implementation of policies detrimental to their interests, constantly expanding their territory and reinvading areas that the city has "cleared" as soon as political pressure has ebbed. While the dynamics of political linkages appear to give vendor leaders power over individual vendors, the dynamics of organization competition functions to ultimately limit leaders to represent the broad interests of their members against the state. As a leader put it succinctly in a press conference, "If I agree to move my people to an area where they can't sell, I lose them." CONCLUSION While co-optation has been widely perceived as a mechanism by which the state is able to control marginal population groups by limiting the demands of "subalterns" and keeping subordinate population groups from organizing horizontally, I have argued that co-optation can be seen as a double edged sword. By stimulating the formation and linking of multiple competing organizations with the state/party apparatus, the state unwittingly politicizes street vendor behavior at the local level by emphasizing the entrepreneurial role of street vendor leaders as intermediaries between vendors and competing state elites. Ultimately, while leaders are pressured to work within the system, they are also compelled by the political-economic logic of their entrepreneurial position to use their organizational resources to put the concrete interests of their members-- commercial space--over the abstract interests of the state. Thus, the state creates the very organizational forms that can thwart its policy objectives. But if competition between multiple organizations provides vendors with the capacity to resist state policies, it may also explain why workers and peasants have been relatively less successful in promoting their interests in Mexico. Since they tend to be organized monopolistically at the local level--that is, only one union represents everyone in a factory or ejido--it is precisely this lack of competition at the local level between rival organizations that gives leaders in these sectors the ability to ignore their constituents. In the absence of democratic controls, this allows the state to control both groups relatively easily. In sum, this paper argues that resistance should be seen as the result of the structured production of relations between the state on the one hand and interest groups in society on the other, rather than as either a "clash" of autonomous groups or the "control" of dependent groups. That is, the ability of vendors to resist is a function of the particular way in which the state and individual state officials have attempted to control and use them for their own benefit within a historically constructed set of rules, requirements and procedures. Paradoxically this relationship, it is argued, produces the potential for resistance even within the political mechanism that scholars have argued is the basis of state control--the process of co-optation. ENDNOTES [TEXT ONLY VERSION--ENDNOTES NOT AVAILABLE] BIBLIOGRAPHY Birbeck, Chris 1978 "Self-Employed Proletarians in an Informal Factory: The Case of Cali's Garbage Dump" in World Development 6:1173- 1186. 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