Vendors Reach Tentative Accord with Mayor Quijano
After over two months of occupying and holding 24-hour vigils on the sidewalks they were violently evicted from last October, street vendors in San Salvador’s historic central district have come to a tentative agreement with Mayor Norman Quijano allowing them to continue selling merchandise in the Hula Hula Park and its surrounding streets. Quijano, who is also the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party's 2014 presidential candidate, halted evictions through the holiday season as vendors and their supporters held vigil, organized marches, and filed legal claims against his actions. In the first few days of January, however, the San Salvador Mayor and his Municipal Police Agents re-launched his eviction campaign against this precarious sector.
“Since November we have been fighting to keep selling and providing food for our families,” explained Martin Montoya of the Independent Vendor Association. Their merchandise arranged on blankets on the ground, vendors reclaimed the sidewalks, refusing to vacate the streets until Quijano provide viable alternative sites for the 4,000-7,000 affected vendors affected by the October evictions.
Following negotiations with various leaders of vendors’ associations, on January 10th Mayor Quijano announced that he would allow the evicted vendors to sell on the previously cleared streets between the hours of 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. The temporary arrangement is reportedly in effect until promised construction of market space is completed. “We won this dialog space with the municipality, and from there things have started moving. The Mayor has promised to build a market in the Hula Hula Park; now we have to continue our struggle so that he fulfills it,” said Montoya.
These developments come on the heels of recent polls documenting Quijano’s decline among the electorate. Some analysis of recent presidential polls suggests that Quijano’s attacks against this vulnerable population are to blame for his fall from favor.