There will be blood… in Antigua Guatemala

Rudy Giron: Antigua Guatemala &emdash; Ambulant Maya Handicraft Vendors Get Together

I remember having read in Gandhi’s autobiography that truth was not absolute, rather more like multi-faceted diamond; meaning truth had many points of view. I believe the same is true of events and issues.

Take for instance, the ambulant Maya vendors selling handicrafts around Antigua Guatemala. Some would argue that it’s unfair for they to walk around town selling stuff without paying taxes and such. Others might contend that is unfair competition for established business selling handicrafts. A third group might dispute that it is better to have people working than being criminal or thieves. Some would reason that it is the system and the laws that have been set up to negate opportunities to the Maya, especially to Maya women giving them no choice but to sell on the streets. And so on and on. Who holds the absolute truth?

For the last three days the Municipal police of Antigua Guatemala has been letting ambulant Maya vendors know that they will be removed and their handicrafts confiscated as the city hall government, the Muni for short, has decided not to allow them to sell on the squares and streets anymore. Below, it’s a short video clip showing one of these encounters at the Parque Central of Antigua Guatemala. Soon, these encounters will escalate into violence, I can see it, but I hope I am wrong because otherwise there will be blood!

What are your thoughts regarding the ambulant Maya handicraft vendors and their ability to sell on any square or street?

Rudy Giron: Antigua Guatemala &emdash; There will be blood... in La Antigua Guatemala

© 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Jessica Sporn

    Until there are more opportunities for these people , I say let them try to make a living however they can.

  • NYChapin

    The truth is that they are going after the little fish and always turn their back on what the big fish is doing. Is this decision by la Muni to improve the quality of life around the park ?
    I say they make a deal and for every street vendor they want to remove, they also crack down on one of many of the noisy bars with patrons spilling out on the streets. Oh no, but the “established business” pay taxes and have rights. Do we really know that they pay the full amount of taxes owed? do we know if they pay fair wages to employees?

    • Jeannine

      Sooooo right !!! There is an irish pub one block down from my hotel and their music is obnoxious and you can actually feel the base thumping till early morning… Sometimes sounds like I was right next door and not down the whole block…

      • NYChapin

        Exactly Jeannine, I was once enjoying a nice diner with friends at a restaurant located on the street behind one of the most popular bars. A soccer game was on TV and we could hear the roar of the crowds as if they were next to us. No biggie, except that it was on Good Friday, supposedly the most solemn day of the year.

        • That’s a good point, NYChapin. I wish our authorities did more in this regard.

  • Jeannine

    First of the park would be boring and bland without these women many of whom have become very good friends of me. I love spending hours sitting on the benches and talking with them and much of the reason why I love Antigua so much would be lost and I wouldnt know where else to meet them. They do no harm and they dont really bother anyone, right? Sure there is the mercado de artesanias and the stores, but I hardly ever buy in the stores because they are too expensive. And mostly, I know my friends have no other way of making money, so why does the muni have to make their life even harder? Dont they realize the whole charm of Antigua is the beautiful mayan women with all their coloful dress and stuff they sell ? The parque has such a great atmosphere and its because of them….. And I also agree there are problems more important they need to take care off, especially the bars, loud music und drunk partiers in the street till the wee morning on weekends or foreigners more or less buying the favors of young girls….

  • Jeannine

    Oh wow….I only just now watched the video… That is absolutely awful and some of my dearest friends where right in the middle there…. I am truly afraid for them…. Wouldnt it be an idea to start a petition or something where people can express their outrage about the abuse of these women who only try to make a living ? Could the muni be persuaded that they are ruining the magic of Antiguas parque if they werent there anymore?? Rudy please keep us updated on this issue…

  • Mercutio57

    As I write this I am looking at some individuales on my kitchen table that I purchased, years ago, from one of these women. Actually, I bought them from her daughter, who was probably no more than 6 or 7 years old at the time. Mom looked on approvingly as her little girl, evidently in training, was rabajando with me like a pro. We went back and forth, laughed and joked, and, as they say, a good time was had by all. It is a precious memory. In fact my home is filled with such recuerdos that are indeed recuerdos. Are these vendors sometimes annoying? Of course. But without them the park, and indeed the town, lose some character.

    • Thanks so much for your awesome feedback, Mercutio57. I will let you guys know if there’s an update.

      • We’ve not been in Antigua for 6 years but we will be back in March. Just this week we were discussing how we were hoping our favorite lady vendor would be there in the park. I hope this decision is reversed.

        • It is good to hear the opinions of visitors to the city as yourself. The Mayor needs to hear all angles before she makes a decision. I agree.

  • Patty Brookman

    You can have all the fountains, trees, and lights in Parque Central, but it is the dear ladies who give Antiqua its personality. They are the ambassadors who make personal contact with visitors. What a shame it would be to end that tradition.

    • Very well said, Patty. Thanks for your feedback.