TAKING STREET VENDORS OFF THE STREET: HISTORICAL PARALLELS IN MEXICO CITY by JOHN C. CROSS, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology The American University in Cairo CROSS@auc-acs.eun.eg Under Review in Estudios Demograficos y Urbanos Acknowledgements: I would like to acknowledge the support of David Lopez of UCLA and Francisco Marmolejo and Fernando Gonzalez of the Universidad de las Americas. I would also like to thank Lic. Alcantara of Coabasto for providing valuable information from that institution. Support for this research was provided by the UCLA Program on Mexico, the National Science Foundation, The U.S. Mexico Fulbright program and the Organization of American States. TAKING STREET VENDORS OFF THE STREET: HISTORICAL PARALLELS IN MEXICO CITY ABSTRACT The recent relocation of about 10,000 ambulatory vendors from the streets of Mexico City's Historical Center into newly constructed markets, has been compared by officials to the massive market construction program carried out by Ernesto P. Uruchurtu during his regency from 1952 to 1966. This article investigates this parallel by looking closely at the policies and practices of Uruchurtu with reference to street vendors. It is argued that these policies had the effect of politicizing street vending by forcing vendors to organize within the PRI and established a series of practices that essentially guaranteed the rights of such organized vendors to markets. Once the market program was halted for economic and political reasons, these policies and practices combined to create the subsequent enormous growth in street vending and the powerful street vendor organizations that continue to elude government attempts to control them today. The government of Mexico City, the Department of the Federal District (DDF), has recently finished one of the most politically sensitive operations of the sexenio of Salinas de Gortari: the relocation of approximately 10,000 ambulatory vendors (street vendors) from the streets of the Historical Center into almost 40 market buildings. The process has been long and difficult. Planning in a broad sense dates back more than a decade, reflected in numerous studies over that period on the type, quantity and location of vendors. The 1985 earthquake sparked a search by several agencies to see whether vendors would fit into urban lots made available by the collapse or condemnation of earthquake- damaged buildings. But real planning did not begin until after the 1991 elections, when a strong showing for the PRI gave the government a relatively free hand with vendors who had been among their most loyal political supporters during the economic and political crisis of the 1980s. This recent success seems all the more remarkable in the face of the consistent failure of the city's attempts to control street vending in the last decades as the number of street vending has grown despite dozens of administrative proposals to limit or reverse that growth. Even the refusal of the city to grant new permits to street vendors since 1984 and the formation of the Coordinaci"n de Abasto Popular (COABASTO) the following year to organize and reduce the phenomena did not prevent the number of vendors from doubling over the subsequent decade, usually with the knowledge and even the support of elected and administrative officials. The difficulty of controlling vending has led many observers to claim that street vendors are a "mafia" that is able to manipulate officials to do their bidding (Baca 1990), and many officials admit in private that street vendor leaders are so well organized politically that it is extremely difficult for city agencies operating alone to take any effective action against them. Street vendor leaders proudly boast of their relations with high level politicians and officials, while some have themselves been elected to office or are invited with other local dignitaries to presidential receptions. The power of leaders is based upon the fact that, possibly more than any other city in the world, Mexico City's vendors are extraordinarily well organized, since city policy is to only provide "tolerances" for vendors who have joined a preexisting organization or formed a new one. Thus, the leaders of the diverse organizations, some with up to 7,000 members, can compel their members to pay high fees and to attend political rallies by threatening to suspend or cancel their membership, which would effectively prevent them from selling on the streets at all. These practices have been observed on numerous occasions by the author and are a constant source of comments and complaints by vendors themselves. While the relocation in the Historical Center appears so far to be successful, it still leaves some 180 thousand vendors on the streets of the Federal District between "fixed stalls", "semi-fixed stalls", "toreros", and "tianguis" of the colonias and comercial zones in the rest of the city. If the DDF wants to eliminate street vending in all its territory, as seems to be the case according to my own personal interviews with high-level officials of the DDF over the last two years and as Lic. Albores Guillen, Director of COABASTO, commented to the Wall Street Journal in 1993 (November 16, 1993, p A18), it will have to confront this greater problem. And whether it can do so will depend as much on its understanding of street vending itself as on the history of the relations between street vendors and the state. This article will focus on the second question. By analyzing the last historical period in which street vendors were effectively relocated from the streets to market buildings, during the regency of Ernesto P. Uruchurtu, I will show the limitations of the state's policy towards street vendors. The central questions in this analysis are the following: How did state officials manage to relocate street vendors into market buildings? and, Why did these policies fail in the long-term? These questions are important not only because they illuminate the problems that city officials faced in this earlier period, but also because, as this paper will argue, the difficulty of controlling street vending today stems to a large degree from the very mechanisms by which the state attempted to control street vending during the Uruchurtu period. Many have noted the historical parallel between the present market construction program and that of the government of Ernesto P. Uruchurtu, the so-called "Regent of Iron" who dominated the Federal District during an unparalleled 14 years between 1952 and 1966. Appointed to the post of Regent of the Federal District by three presidents in a row, Uruchurtu left his mark by, among other things, building 150 market buildings to house almost 55,000 street vendors during his regency. Uruchurtu's methods in "modernizing" Mexico City were frequently brutal, involving the harassment, illegal imprisonment and beating of street vendors and "paracaidistas", land invaders who's illegal occupation of land was spurred by the strict limits that Uruchurtu put on the growth of the urban area of the city despite its rapidly growing population (Cornelius 1977). Indeed, Uruchurtu was finally chased out of office after ordering the razing of a "invasion" community, suggesting the high level of conflict between his administration and the "informal" subsistence activities of the poor. Still, while his authoritarian actions towards the poorest members of society eventually led to his downfall, he was still seen as an ideal political figure by the middle and upper classes for whom the order imposed by Uruchurtu, however brutally, had its own merit. As the Excelsior editorialized after Uruchurtu's resignation was demanded by a Congress stoked by public opinion: "We remember that before Uruchurtu we metropolitans came to believe that the ever-present dirtiness in our markets and the quality of "z"cos" (open air markets) that were in our most central streets were just part of our national idiosyncracies..." (Excelsior 9/15/66) It is this image of Uruchurtu that today's political leadership wish to be compared with--the Uruchurtu who cleared the city's sidewalks of vendors. But the failure of Uruchurtu's legacy is evident in the fact that, while the markets he built still stand, the city's streets are again filled with vendors. Is this fact simply the result of later bureaucratic incompetence, or did Uruchurtu's policies themselves help create the basis for the powerful vendor organizations that make the control of street vending so difficult today? THE LEGACY OF URUCHURTU First, it is necessary to review the objective legacy of Uruchurtu: the market construction program itself. Street vending had been on the decline in Mexico City before World War II, when it took on fresh life as a way of skirting price controls and rationing (Vasquez Torres 1991). After the war, a new regulation for street vending was passed for the Federal District permitting the establishment of special vending zones through a procedure to be regulated by the Market Office of the Treasury of the DDF. The law, passed in June 1951, has been cited as the justification for preventing vending in the "historical center" and other areas of the city, but in fact its provisions were very liberal. The only outright prohibition is on the sale of livestock in the area of the Z"calo and the placement of stalls within 3 meters of a street corner. Other provisions, such as a section that forbids "obstructing traffic" were designed to be interpreted administratively (Mexico 1951). But the law was never implemented as such. Upon entering office in December of 1952, Uruchurtu simply outlawed street vending by administrative fiat. Within a week he ordered the city center cleared of its 2,100 vendors, who were required to relocate into a recently constructed but empty market building, despite the fact that the 1,000 stall market was far from sufficient to handle all the displaced vendors. Still, as newspaper editorials trumpeted, the new Regent appeared to accomplish in a few days what previous administrations had been claiming for years could not be done--he had cleared the downtown area of vendors, and before his first month of office was over he extended the ban to the rest of the city as well. His authoritarian style gained the new Regent the reputation of a decisive leader--and earned him the moniker of "Regent of Iron". The press acclaimed him profusely--an editorial cartoon in the Excelsior showed him as an American football player rushing a football marked D.F. (Federal District) irrepressibly towards the end zone, while the caption read, "May he never stop!". But the decision to abolish street vending had been made without any negotiation or planning, and the resultant backlash forced the city to modify its plans subject to the availability of suitable alternatives. 2,000 of those affected by the city-wide ban staged an occupation of the city offices and the Director of the Market Office, Gonzalo Pe$a Manterola, was compelled to personally lead a search for "alternative" sites for the displaced vendors (Excelsior 12/18/52). In fact, the city was forced to allow street vending in most areas until markets could be built to accommodate the vendors in adequate facilities. Like the government today, Uruchurtu made use of a number of rhetorical claims about the "evils" of street vending to justify his strong action against them in the face of recent legislation that basically legalized the activity. Today street vendors are accused of everything from causing "disloyal" competition for "legitimate" stores, avoiding taxes, to causing air pollution and a general public health threat. Foremost among the rhetoric used against street vendors by Uruchurtu was that they caused traffic congestion and were the cause of inflation because of the purported effect of "intermediarism". Rather then simply forcing street vendors to give up their trade and replacing them with modern supermarkets, which would have dealt efficiently with the perceived problem of "intermediarism", Uruchurtu began an ambitious program for the construction of covered market buildings to house the vendors who were displaced by the above orders. The markets were built from public funds and rented to the vendors at a symbolic cost, officially in order to reduce the cost to the final consumer but, more importantly, to "bribe" vendors into moving off the streets without resistance. As an official who entered public service at the time explained, in order to entice the vendors into the markets Uruchurtu gave them refrigerators, scales, "...and even then he gave them the maintenance and care of their merchandise with guards, the light, the water..." and many of their other needs included in their nominal rents. In the market area of La Merced, at that time the largest outdoor market area of the city, market space was constructed for 6,727 vendors. In the area known as La Lagunilla, 2,036 vendors were accommodated and in the commercial area of Tepito 4,488 vendors were placed in market structures. All of these were inaugurated in 1957, although in some cases previous market structures for far fewer vendors had existed before and been replaced. Altogether, in 1957 alone 18,414 vendors were relocated into 36 markets, and between 1953 and 1966 a total 174 markets were constructed or reconstructed for 52,070 vendors raising the number of markets in the Federal District from 44 to over 200. This level of market construction has never been repeated, and the markets built during this period accounted for 77.6% of the 67,066 market stalls in the city in 1993, 26 years after Uruchurtu. Even these figures underestimate the contribution of Uruchurtu to the present- day public market system in Mexico City since over a dozen markets were in the process of final planning or construction when Uruchurtu was removed from office. [FIGURE 1 ABOUT HERE] Figure 1 gives an idea of the immensity and singularity of this undertaking. It shows the number of vendor stalls in markets and concentrations inaugurated between 1953 and 1991 by presiden- tial term. The first two terms, the effective period of Uruchurtu's reign (1953 to 1958 and 1959 to 1964), account for 69 and 90 markets respectively. The 1953 to 58 period accounts for the greatest number of vendors (29,179 as compared to 20,911 in the second) because of the huge size of many of the markets. After Uruchurtu was removed from office, however, the role of the city in market construction was radically reduced. Instead, as the graph shows, a growing emphasis was placed upon "concentrations"-- permanent markets which are recognized by the city but which are constructed by vendors themselves. In fact, many of the "markets" in the later period were in fact vendor-constructed concentrations that were re-designated as markets by officials eager to show their industriousness. But even the combined growth of markets and concentrations is less than spectacular in the late 60s and 70s, and both appear to die out in the 80s. But if the market construction program, with their refrigeration units, childcare centers, security, lighting, running water and other "modern conveniences" were the carrot designed to entice vendors off the street, Uruchurtu also wielded a big stick-- street vendors who refused or were unable to enter the markets were faced with the most severe police repression in the modern history of the city. Guillermina Rico, who was too young to qualify for a stall in La Mercd when the market was constructed there in 1957, explained what happened as she stubbornly continued to sell on the street to help support her family: "Then those of us who were left out stayed to suffer: 36 hours, 15 days, draggings, kickings and beatings... They threw us in jail for 36 hours, and the children were sent to the orphanage... Many of the (street) merchants didn't know prison, but they got to know it for being merchants, for earning their living honestly." Marta , a vendor who started selling during the last years of Uruchurtu's reign, comments: "... there was no permission to sell, so since the (street inspector) trucks arrived, we had to find a way of working early. We worked from 5 to 7:30 in the morning because the trucks arrived and removed us. At first they just took the people, and the things were left thrown on the ground. But later, since the government saw that some kept selling, they changed their system again. Then they came back and they took all the merchandise. They let us go free, but they took your merchandise. Everything, they took everything, whether it was money or the merchandise, everything there was..." A high level of repression was a crucial aspect of the market construction program. Since commercial patterns had become established in the streets, vendors would not enter the markets unless the city could guarantee that their old sales areas would not be taken over by new vendors who could steal their clients. Once they were given this guarantee, the associations of street vendors agreed to enter the markets in mass, and usually markets would be designed and constructed for a single association of vendors. Thus, vendors who decided to stay in the street were left without any organizational representation or force to resist the repression against them. All they could do was to attempt to avoid the repression, as these women did. COLLAPSE OF THE LEGACY Despite the apparent middle and upper class support for his actions against street vendors, when Uruchurtu was removed in 1966 both the construction program and the repressive policies towards street vending ceased. If we are to understand why these policies failed to survive Uruchurtu, we have to have a broader understanding of the economic and political benefits and costs that they incurred for the Mexican political system of the time, and the role that the policies were designed to play in Uruchurtu's own career. Uruchurtu was a close friend of President Miguel Aleman with whom he went through college and served as campaign manager and confidant. In 1952, he was appointed to head the Federal District by President Ruiz Cortines in a move that is largely seen as a compromise between the outgoing and incoming presidents to attempt to maintain some powerful positions within the cabinet for Alemanistas (supporters of Miguel Aleman). There is less agreement as to why he was reappointed by Adolfo Lopez Mateos 6 years later. One argument is that it represented continued power on the part of Miguel Aleman. An alternative explanation would simply be that Uruchurtu--who himself was a pre-candidate for the presidency--had become so powerful that Lopez Mateos couldn't get rid of him. Lopez Mateos was selected as a compromise candidate over Uruchurtu because the latter was too identified with Aleman's supporters within the government, and thus was rejected by the supporters of Cardenas, the powerful left-wing president of the 1930s. But he was a weak president who was dominated by the Alamanistas and Cardenistas in his cabinet. Uruchurtu, on the other hand, had a long history in administrative positions in the PRI and in state and national government, and had a powerful cadre of allies. In 1964 Uruchurtu was again a pre-candidate for the presidency on behalf of the PRI, however, Gustavo Diaz Ordaz was elected and many argue that tensions between the two figures were apparent from the beginning, although Uruchurtu was again reappointed to the position of head of the DDF. While Uruchurtu's conservative stance was similar to that of Diaz Ordaz, his power as Regent and behind the scenes became a threat to the President's authority. As one scholarly work in its discussion of the conflict between these two political figures notes: "A President generally guards the expectation that his collaborators will not exceed him in power, so that he can shine (destacar) personally." (Lerner de Sheinbaum & Ralsky de Cimet 1976: 395) It is highly significant, however, that the final downfall of Uruchurtu was precipitated by his continuing policies against informal-economy linked movements within the capital city. Besides his attacks on street vending, Uruchurtu was also known for his harsh repression of land invaders, who thwarted his attempt to limit urban growth and imposed high costs on the city for the purchase of land and provision of urban services in areas that were often only marginally habitable or virtually unserviceable due to topographic features or soil conditions. But his practice of ordering such communities to be razed was an unpopular one which provoked many ideological problems for the PRI. When the city bulldozed a community of 400 land invaders during a downpour four days before the "grito" of independence (September 15, 1966), members of congress lined up to denounce the act and the PRI skillfully distanced Uruchurtu from the President before censuring him and forcing his resignation. During the congressional debate, land invaders and street vendors were both held up as noble victims of the cruelty of Uruchurtu's policies. One columnist argued that the attacks on street vendors had formed part of the Uruchurtu's "dictatorial pattern" against "...the poor indigenous women who in the use of their inalienable right of survival sold their miserable merchandise on the urban sidewalk." (Carlos Alvarez Acevedo, Excelsior 9/15/66:7A) Four powerful worker unions affiliated with the PRI, including the CTM and the Federation of Revolutionary Workers (FOR), also attacked the "...injustice that is committed against the humble merchants, ambulatory vendors, who are imprisoned and whose goods are confiscated." (Excelsior 9/15/66:1A) The paradox here is that Uruchurtu's policies towards street vending--the construction of markets and the resultant necessary repression of vendors--was originally a key component of his power base. Not only did the policy please the middle classes and provide a substantial source of lucrative contracts for the Mexican construction industry, it also enabled Uruchurtu to organize and manipulate street vendors politically for his own purposes. THE POLITICIZATION OF STREET VENDING: COSTS AND BENEFITS One section of the 1951 market regulation allowed street vendors to form voluntary civil associations to represent their interests and, to prevent city officials from ignoring them, required that the Market Office recognize them as long as they had at least 100 members. After Uruchurtu realized he could not just "ban" street vending overnight, but had to construct markets for their relocation, he had to decide how to construct markets for the thousands of independent vendors who existed throughout the city. Very astutely, he laid down a policy that only "recognized" groups of at least 100 street vendors would have a market constructed for them. More importantly, only such groups would be allowed to sell on the street pending completion of their market: vendors who were not members of "recognized" associations would therefore be repressed. Administratively, the civil associations enabled city officials and market administrators to negotiate with a single body of vendors that represented--or at least could be held accountable for--all the vendors in a given street or market. Politically, the civil associations were also obliged to affiliate with the PRI and support political actions on behalf of that party. More importantly, Uruchurtu used the associations to advance his own career. The skillful manipulation of the market construction program was already paying off powerfully in the political realm by 1958. On February 12 of that year a rally of 40,000 market stall- holders and their families showed up for a huge political rally in support of Lopez Mateos, and the head of the PRI in the federal district, Rodolfo Gonzalez Guevara, noted that the 1958 campaign was the first in which small merchants had played a substantial role--something he attributed directly to the market construction program. More significant was the fact that leaders of the market vendors overtly connected their support for Lopez Mateos with his promise to continue Uruchurtu's policies within the city. (Excelsior, 2/1/58 and 2/15/58) The timing of the inauguration of markets during the two presidential terms in which Uruchurtu served as the Regent of the Federal District further indicates that the inaugurations were calculated to garner immediate good will and support for himself and the PRI. By comparing the number of vendors who received a stall during each two-year section of the sexenios of Ruiz Cortines and Lopez Mateos, when Uruchurtu was in full charge of the Federal District, it becomes clear that the last two-year period of each sexenio--the period directly before the presidential elections-- were the object of a much higher than normal level of market construction. [FIGURE 2 ABOUT HERE] As Figure 2 shows, 78% of all new market vendors during the Ruiz Cortines presidency received their stalls in the last two years of that sexenio. Likewise, 61% of all new market vendors during the Diaz Ordaz sexenio received their stall during the same two-year phase. More striking, in subsequent presidential terms, after Uruchurtu was forced out of office, the proportion of market stalls constructed during the last two-year period drops to around 33%--the expected random occurrence. This suggests that Uruchurtu deliberately planned the construction of markets to coincide with the period just prior to presidential elections as a political tool. The fact that this policy declined significantly after the Uruchurtu period ended demonstrates that the market program had ceased to be useful in this manner. It was in fact this very politicization of the market program and of street vending that ultimately spelled the doom of the program itself. Because while the markets were used to entice vendors into the PRI, this practice was self-limited by four factors. These will be mentioned here, and will be discussed in depth in the next section. First, while the policy of market construction had created a large pool of associations loyal to the PRI, this was obtained at a huge financial cost. Secondly, by 1966 the vast majority of street vendors were either in market structures, or had rejected them in favor of a return to the street. Thirdly, there was a tendency for support from market vendors to decline over time. Finally, the enormous subsidy of market vendors led to profiteering by vendors and actually led consumers to request the return of street markets. THE POLITICAL LIMITS OF MARKET CONSTRUCTION THE COST OF THE MARKETS The market construction program cost an enormous sum of money to build and then maintain a complex system of markets at virtually no cost to the occupants and direct beneficiaries of the markets themselves. While exact figures are impossible to find even for present-day maintenance costs (although it is important to note that present-day market vendors have balked at a program of "privatization" of the markets that would saddle them with maintenance costs), President Ruiz Cortines announced that between 1953 and 1958 alone, $350 million pesos were spent building or refurbishing almost 90 covered markets to house vendors, over 7 times the expenditure for the building of new schools in a period of 6% annual population growth, and the equivalent of slightly over half of the entire budget for the Federal District in 1957 ("Texto del Reporte Presidencial" Excelsior 9/2/58). Such an enormous fiscal drain on the city's resources could only be justified if the markets could be argued to produce substantial political benefits, which at first were forthcoming but later dwindled. THE REJECTION OF MARKETS Uruchurtu never completely eliminated streetvending. While street vendors seemed pleased with the market construction program at first, the markets were simply not profitable for many vendors, who began a slow process of returning to the streets. A number of reasons accounted for this fact: 1) The lack of adequate marketing planning for the new commercial center, 2) resistance to the greater level of control over vendors in the markets, and 3) changes in the nature of commercialization due the change of locale from the public thoroughfare to the enclosed market buildings. Constructed on available lots or areas of cheap land values, the markets were usually not as centrally located as the streetmarkets they replaced, meaning that fewer clients came to them. While new clienteles were built up over time, many vendors seem to have left during this initial phase. In addition, the symbolic rents were by no means the only cost of entering the markets: besides the continuation of corruption (many of the administrators were ex-police officers, and highly susceptible to such activity (Eckstein 1977)) city officials also used the markets to gain control over the commercial activities of the vendors in ways they found difficult or impossible to control in the street, such as imposing regular hours and regulating "giros" or product lines. A third factor was that the simple change of locale from the public thoroughfare to a market changed the nature of selling. Because of its location in public space, a street market is not just a place of private economic transactions: it is a place of socialization, a place to eat, to see and be seen, to chat with neighbors and friends, and a place to see what is available, and what takes one's fancy. On the other hand, public markets are more constraining in the sense that the closed space gives a sense of alien proprietorship, and one must therefore have a specific "purpose" to be there. Again, this required vendors to adapt their marketing strategy, an adaptation that few were prepared for. For these and other reasons, the relocation of thriving streetmarkets into closed markets damaged the commercial allure of whole neighborhoods. By mid-1953, even the established merchants of swanky Polanco were urging the city to let street vendors come back, because they claimed their sales had dropped by 50% while other neighborhoods where vendors had remained experienced an increase in sales ("Distrito Federal" in Excelsior, 6/20/53). Many vendors from this period whom I interviewed claimed they suffered even greater losses and their savings were depleted. Some took to selling door-to-door, some had to get factory jobs, while others simply went to areas where markets were under construction to make a business out of getting a stall for free and reselling it after a few weeks. A good example is presented by the working class area of Tepito which, located near the downtown area and one kilometer from the Z"calo, had grown into a major streetmarket area since late in the last century (V zquez Torres 1991). Used goods of frequently dubious legal origin--giving the area the name of the "thieves market"--were sold from wooden shacks constructed in the middle of the street that in many cases also doubled as homes. These vendors presented few protests when the markets were constructed and their stalls and homes were destroyed in 1957, but Alfonso Hern ndez Hern ndez, a Tepito historian and an official in the Cuauhtemoc Delegation, maintains that after three years vendors began leaving the markets, faced with the prospect of complete financial ruin if they stayed in them. In some cases they sold their rights to their stalls, in others they just left the stalls vacant--giving up all right to them. One of the Tepito markets--which now successfully bills itself as the "worlds largest shoe market" after each of its 700 stalls began specializing in shoes--is now reportedly controlled by seven families who bought out most other vendors as they left the market. THE DECLINE IN SUPPORT FROM MARKET VENDORS Even for those vendors who remained in the markets, their affiliation with the PRI provided no guarantee that they would continue to be as active in their support as they were at first. While at first market vendors could be counted upon as a powerful support base, they had little need to continue to support the PRI once their titles were secure. Once given, the stalls could not be easily taken away, and thus the PRI had little effective threat against the market vendors with which to maintain their loyalty. On the other hand, since streetvendors never gain any form of legal title over their "spaces" on the street, they are compelled by their lack of security to constant political activity to retain their "rights". The only "service" that the PRI could offer to the market vendors, on the other hand, was to keep rental payments symbolic, thus preventing the city from recouping the enormous cost of the market program. SUBSIDIES AND PROFITEERING Finally, one of the principal rhetorical reasons for taking action against street vending was to attack the problem of "intermediarism" and the "congested commercial system" that Uruchurtu alleged was the root cause of inflation. Obviously, the simple shifting of petty retailers from the street to covered markets could do nothing to solve the "problem" of intermediarism, since the vendors purchased from the same suppliers for the most part. On the other hand, the official justification for the enormous subsidy of petty retailing that the construction program entailed was that this would lower the cost to consumers in "popular" areas. But since Uruchurtu's policy was also to reduce "unfair" competition against the markets from street vendors and even supermarkets (to protect their economic and political investment in the market vendors), there was simply no incentive for the market vendors to lower their prices or even to rationalize their purchasing and merchandising strategies to be able to lower prices. As one official who joined the market office in 1968 commented to me: "90% of the merchants that have been selling (in the markets) for 20, 30 or 40 years have become very wealthy because the government has given them everything." Rather than passing along their savings, the lack of competition allowed the market vendors to simply amass wealth at the expense of the consumer, which was not lost on the neighbors of many markets, who frequently complained of the high prices and poor service, and in many cases requested that street vending be renewed to lower prices. The above factors reinforced each other to produce a steady reduction of the political rate of return from the market construction program over time. While the construction and administrative costs mounted, the political benefits dwindled until the fantastic expenditures no longer made sense. At the same time, the market construction program implied a massive enforcement campaign to force street vendors into the markets on the one hand and to prevent them from competing with the markets on the other. Thus, even while the market construction program produced steadily reduced political benefits in terms of decreasing support from market vendors, it produced more and more political liabilities on the other hand in terms of its attacks on street vendors. In a word, these policies were no longer politically or economically viable. The street vendors that existed were no longer amenable to entering markets, and by enforcing stiff laws against them the PRI only succeeded in alienating them while the city administration-- and by extension the national administration--merely looked authoritarian and dictatorial on the national and international level. One must also consider the broader political aspects of the Mexican political scene. A decade and a half of growth had woken hopes of improvement in both political and economic aspects of the Mexican domestic scene--neither of which were nearly as fast coming as had been anticipated. At the same time, political control had been virtually monopolized by the right-wing of the PRI with a succession of anti-populist presidents. Growing political unrest began during this period, particularly among the middle-classes. The student movement--which ultimately was repressed by the army in a massacre costing hundreds of lives in July of 1968--already had a strong and growing presence. As Cornelius notes (1975), it was simply not possible for the state to continue alienating a growing proportion of the "popular" classes during this period. Just as the PRI became intimately involved in land invasion issues during this period, so it also needed to find allies, not enemies, among the street vendors. Thus, Uruchurtu's market construction program had changed from being a political asset to the PRI in 1958 to a financial and political liability of huge proportions by 1966. The razing of a community of land invaders was not simply an excuse to get rid of a political rival, but a symptom of the very danger that Uruchurtu posed for the regime. He now got in the way of the PRI's attempts to cement support among the lower classes because of his refusal to allow land invaders or street vendors to become incorporated within the political-administrative structure. But the market construction program, as it was implemented by Uruchurtu, established two precedents that are crucial in explaining the power of street vendors today. First, by requiring street vendors to be members of a civil association in order to be considered for a market stall or to be "tolerated" in the street, Uruchurtu laid the groundwork for today's powerful street vendor unions. Instead of the "voluntary" civil associations envisioned by the 1951 market regulation, Uruchurtu's policies gave complete power to association leaders over their members, since it gave them, rather than the city, the ultimate power over the livelihood of the individual vendor, who could not get a stall or a "tolerance" without the leader's blessing. Secondly, Uruchurtu's policies not only firmly centered the market vendors within the PRI, they also provided a model which future associations could follow of exchanging loyalty to a political patron (usually within the PRI, but later also within other parties) for reciprocal support of their "right" to a market or a street. Above all, street vendors learned that if they could hold onto an area for long enough, the city would recognize their "right" to it, or, the next best thing, construct a market for them nearby. CONCLUSION In drama a true tragedy is one in which a fatal flaw in the nature of the principal character twists his noble intentions into tragic results. That is, a true tragedy is one in which the antagonist is defeated not by nature or by his fellow man, but by himself. All the elements that made the attempt to eliminate street vending a failure, and which continue to do so today, essentially originate with the particular policies that Uruchurtu implemented to obtain the double goals of eliminating street vending while creating a dependent client group of market vendors supportive of his own political career. These objectives required Uruchurtu to embark on an ambitious program of market construction while at the same time conducting the harshest policy of repression against street vending in modern Mexican history. Over time, it was the demands of these two policies in themselves that led in large part to Uruchurtu's downfall. But the more important legacy of Uruchurtu is the way that he helped pattern the relations between street vendors and the city that later allowed street vending to re-emerge with a vengeance. It was never the intention of the new city officials who replaced Uruchurtu to allow the spectacular growth of street vending that occurred in the following three decades. Rather, they simply wanted to reverse a situation that had become politically untenable for the PRI and economically untenable for the state. However, Uruchurtu's policies had radically politicized street vending by using the market construction program as an incentive for street vendors to organize within the PRI and as a reward for loyalty towards his own political objectives. His successors, in order to capitalize on the political benefits of organizing street vendors in the same way that Uruchurtu had organized market vendors, made the fatal mistake of continuing to apply the letter of his policies without their spirit, and thus continuing to foment the creation of street vendor organizations. What occurred soon after Uruchurtu was forced to resign from office is that the market construction program was scrapped in favor of new programs, such as the Metro. But officials continued to compel groups of vendors to organize into associations that had to prove their loyalty to the PRI in order to be "tolerated" in the streets. For example, by 1968, already over 10,000 vendors were authorized to sell in "tianguis" (Pyle 1978). Officials hid the fact that they were allowing street vending to re-emerge with the fiction that the groups were being "tolerated" only until markets were built, essentially applying the letter of Uruchurtu's policies but denying the spirit since neither the officials nor the vendors had any interest in the construction of the markets. Still, as noted at the beginning of the article, by compelling street vendors to form or join associations, the city gave the associations the ultimate power over individual vendors, allowing the leaders of the associations to use their members in any way they saw necessary in order to defend their interests--increasing their memberships, increasing their space on the street, and ultimately increasing the "phenomena" of street vending to a level unprecedented in Mexican history. (Raw data from DDF-Coabasto 1991) (Raw data from DDF-Coabasto 1991) ENDNOTES BIBLIOGRAPHY Baca, Pedro 1990 "Las Zarinas de las Banquetas." in Contenido. Mexico City. August, 1990. Bromley, Ray 1978b "Organization, Regulation and Exploitation in the So- Called `Urban Informal Sector': The Street Traders of Cali, Colombia" in World Development 6:1161-1172. CANACO 1987 La Econom!a Informal. Mexico, D.F. 1990 Econom!a Informal, Tercera Edici"n. Quien Provee a los Ambulantes. Mexico, D.F. 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