Yesterday saw long queues lining Perón Street as 700 of Once’s informal street vendors waited to sign up to the scheme agreed on during negotiations between representatives of the Buenos Aires Government and the vendors, whose vending posts were removed from Pueyrredón Ave. and Bartolomé Mitre Street on Tuesday morning.
The numbers of vendors who turned up to put their name down were actually so great that the process caused the register to crash, forcing volunteers to record the details on forms by hand.
For a while, it seemed like the chaos that’s been taking place around Pueyrredón and Rivadavia for the last four days – huge street blocks, involving rocks, tear gas and rubber bullets being exchanged between police and protesters – was coming to an end.
Talking to the press, head of the Buenos Aires City Government, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta claimed that “macrismo” (Macri’s government) had resolved “an historical problem in 2 days.”
“We dealt with the problem on Ave. Avellaneda, in Flores. In Caballito, on Ave. Rivadavia, there are no more illegal vendors. On Cabildo and Juramento, there are no more vendors. What we’ve done in Once is historic. In two days, we’ve solved a problem that’s been going on for over 10 years,” he said in dialogue with TN.
But it was obviously too good to be true.
This morning, over 100 vendors gathered to obstruct transit on Rivadavia and express their disdain over the agreements made yesterday. Some sources have suggested that many of the group were complaining because they were unable to register yesterday, whilst others simply do not agree with what has been decided.
According to TN, there have been at least 6 arrests so far today and the manifestation has caused the Once train station to be temporarily closed. A large force of riot police was deployed to ensure that the streets were freed up as quickly as possible and it is currently being reported that all lanes are now clear.
Many of the informal vendors are arguing that the spaces offered by the City (one warehouse at Perón and Ecuador and another on La Rioja, near Plaza Miserere) as part of the new agreement to move their posts off the streets are in quiet areas and as a result they will not be able to see the same quantities of produce as they did whilst their stalls and mats lined the pavements.
The Government’s proposed scheme, through which they are aiming to free up public space around the Once train station and make a move to cut down the informal economy, involves six key elements:
- A free 60-day training course. The course will be provided by the City’s Ministry for Modernisation, and will cover subjects related to getting into the labor market, sales techniques and entrepreneurship.
- Those who have enrolled must attend the course 4 hours a day, for 5 days a week.
- They will be given a monthly subsidy of AR$ 11,700 for two months, which will be provided by the Confederation of Medium-sized Companies (CAME).
- They will be obliged to register in a reduced tax scheme (monotributo social). This has inevitably caused unrest amongst the informal vendors, who do not usually pay tax.
- They will be given a savings account. For those who do not have one, the City Bank will open one for free.
- For 60 days they will not be able to incur income from illegal sales – if they do, it will be taken from them by CAME.