Argentina: Vendors' organisations negotiate successful outcomes at La Salada Market in Buenos Aires

After almost two years of careful negotiations with the local Municipality of Lomas de Zamora, almost 8000 stalls on the outskirts of  La Salada market were dismantled and moved some 500 metres away.

"This is not an eviction, it is a transfer and we have managed to negotiate work continuity and social inclusion for those affected," explained Oscar Silva, President of SIVARA (Trade Union of Autonomous Vendors of the Republic of Argentina) and also President of StreetNet International.

The vendors will be installed in a temporary covered area while new permanent installations, which will have electricity, water and sanitation and shower facilities, are completed.

The site where Feria La Ribera market was set up some years back is right by the side of a  river, and apart from completing blocking the route for traffic during market days, was accessed by an old and rusting metal bridge which posed a serious risk.

"Without a negotiated solution, we could not have managed to carry out this transfer in a peaceful manner.  We have the police force here - but they are not armed," commented Juan Jose Mussi, Chief of ACUMAR, the government environmental agency.

Over the last few months, the National Chamber of Commerce (CAME) has been carrying out a ferocious campaign against the new market, claiming it was an extravagant misuse of taxpayers' money and calling for the repeal of the law which permits street vending.

"In fact, the CAME campaign has turned against them as it highlighted the problems facing street vendors.  Now we have been able to negotiate permits for 15 more new markets so that our affiliates will finally be able to work in dignity.  However, the struggle has not ended as CAME continues to call for the eradication of street vending.  We have a very busy year ahead of us!", Oscar Silva added.

This peaceful transfer contrasts starkly with the scenes of brutal police tactics to clear the streets in La Bras market in the centre of Sao Paolo, Brazil,  a few months earlier.

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StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies