Having traveled north along the orange line of the CDMX Metro and arriving to El Rosario, I found myself walking up the stairs with a huge crowd of people.
I had plans to change metro lines and carry towards Metro Instituto de Petroleo along the red line.
As I got up the steps and walking shoulder to shoulder among 50 other people, there was obviously very limited space.
To make things worse, there were some women selling random objects and candies on the floor on both sides.
Behind their goods were cardboard signs with messages about the importance of feminism.
For those who don’t know, you got feminist vendors occupying the spaces of numerous metros around Mexico City.
While these women need to support themselves like anyone else, couldn’t they have these women put their goods away during the rush hour?
Or have them sell in spots that would give everyone more room to walk?
But then, to add to my unfortunate luck, some Mexican let out a very violent sneeze that caused him to accidentally bump me to the side.
I tripped a tiny bit.
And found my feet stepping on accidentally some random vendor’s snickers bar that she was intending to sell.
At that point, the petite 5’4 female vendor who looked like she hadn’t had a meal for 5 days screeched out in unimaginable anger.
“THE PATRIARCHY!! THE PATRIACHY!!! THE PATRIARCHY HAS RUINED MY MERCHANDISE!!”
At that point, a mob of Mexican feminist women unleashed their Aztec rage upon me all at once.
Being shoved to the ground, my last memory was the sight of numerous women beating me with bats and the sound of some random metro cop yelling “YA DEJALO!! YA ESTA MUERTO!!”
I woke up in a hospital soon after.
The Informal Vendors of CDMX Metro: A Problem?
Thankfully, I didn’t actually get my ass kicked by a mob of feminist informal vendors in the metro of CDMX.
However, I did get into a mini argument with one in Metro El Rosario over a month ago.
Long story short, I did travel along the orange line up north and arrived to El Rosario where I had to switch lines and travel along the red line to get home.
Stopped at Metro Instituto de Petroleo before heading north to Politecnico.
Before I did any of that though, I got to El Rosario.
For those who don’t know by the way, sometimes El Rosario can seem a tiny bit confusing to navigate if you are arriving by going north along the orange line.
To keep it simple, you basically have to find your way around a certain path to get to the area where you can switch lines because they had certain paths inconveniently blocked with no explanation for where to go.
Either way, I found myself along the right path as I got used to navigating this part of the metro and then I got stuck by a corner.
In front of me, you could see a HUGE ass crowd of people (easily over a 100 or more) walking in the opposite direction and with no way for me to move through the crowd.
Simply put, I had to wait for this crowd to pass along.
While I was waiting, I was standing next to one of those feminist informal vendors.
Literally a petite chick at about 5’4 selling random candies on the floor.
While standing there, I had to wait somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes because of how many people were passing by.
As I was waiting, the chick kept giving me annoyed looks on the side and was just watching me for some reason.
Perhaps she couldn’t see that I was obviously waiting for the crowd to pass by so I can carry on?
To which she finally found the effort to ask me “can I help you?”
And, in the moment, I didn’t hear her very well so I think that’s what she said in hindsight but I did hear her say something to me anyhow.
I look over and asked “what?”
To which she said something to the effect of “this is my space to sell. You want anything?”
If she hadn’t been a midget sized chick and instead maybe a dude, I maybe would’ve been an ass back to her.
Because obviously, to anyone that isn’t blind, I am clearly waiting for the crowd to pass by so I can carry on.
I only said to her “estoy esperando, no ves?”
She gave me some look and that was the end of the interaction before ultimately, after a few more minutes, I was able to carry on.
And, truth be told, it was the only time I ever had one of those informal vendors give me attitude in the Mexico City metro.
For those who don’t know what they look like or what I’m talking about, I included some videos here of both just some normal informal metro vendors and some feminist informal ones.
The feminist ones are new to me because, over the last year, I have seen a lot more of them occupying the spaces in the metros to sell their own goods.
I don’t ever remember them in the metro when I first moved here around 2017.
Either way, they aren’t really that much difference than the regular informal vendors.
Both sell random shit laid out on the floor (candies, artisan crafts, headphones, etc).
The main difference is, if you happen to be a feminist and feel more sympathy for women with limited income than men with limited income, then you’ll buy from the feminist vendors than the regular ones, I suppose.
But really, there isn’t much of a difference between the two outside of the ideology being more in your face.
Still, as you can see here, either crowd isn’t very well liked among every Mexican.
To summarize, you basically had Mexico City take action against all of the informal vendors in 56 different metro stations by closing them down.
Now, keep in mind, there’s way more than just 50 metro stations in Mexico City.
In the metro station closest to me – Metro CU – you still have the feminist informal vendors selling their stuff.
Still, what’s the issue?
Why can’t these people sell their products in the metro?
Let me explain the common talking points that I’ve heard over the years against these folks and what my opinion is on each talking point.
“They Occupy Space!”
This is the first argument you hear among folks you have an issue with these types.
Primarily that they make it difficult to navigate the metro by taking up more space than necessary.
Is that the truth?
Honestly, I never considered them to be taking up so much space.
Each one has their own little spot where they lay out the items they have on sale and that’s it.
The only way you could cut down on the space they take up is by limiting the number of informal vendors that exist or have them lay out less items than they do.
Still, I can only speak from my personal experience.
I use the metro every week and never had issue where they were blocking my way to get somewhere.
Even in the initial story above, the lady in question wasn’t blocking my path.
Had she not been there, I still would’ve stood in that exact spot waiting for an opportunity to get ahead.
Sure, you had other informal sellers taking up space in the path that crowd was walking through.
But given there were so many people that I had to wait 5 to 10 minutes to get a chance to carry on forward, I doubt that getting rid of the informal vendors would’ve allowed me to sneak through the crowd.
In all likelihood, you’d have the extra space filled out by people walking in the group.
In best case scenario, maybe the crowd would’ve finished up their walking a minute or two earlier but, given these were Mexicans, they were walking slow enough as it was anyhow.
So that extra minute or two wouldn’t have mattered.
Either way, I personally have never found these informal vendors to make it difficult for me to walk anywhere but that’s one of the most common complaints others have.
“A Security Risk!”
Next, we have this argument here that they pose a safety or security risk.
The basic idea being that of a hypothetical – what would happen if suddenly EVERYONE had to start running through the metro because of some freak moment like an earthquake?
And then the informal vendors, with them blocking space, somehow indirectly cause an accident as everyone is moving through SO QUICKLY.
Honestly, I haven’t ever seen this happen and I’ve been through numerous earthquakes in Mexico over the years and use the metro quite commonly.
Also, I imagine that, in case some freak moment was happening, no Mexican would give a fuck about the merchandise on the ground and it’s getting stampeded.
Even if such an incident did happen, the existence of street vendors or not wouldn’t matter so much if literally everyone was rushing in quickly because, in such a moment, surely someone would get hurt anyhow.
I just don’t see the risk here to be that great either way as I have never seen it happen and don’t think that the informal vendors are worsening the situation that much if something like the above were to happen.
One of the only safety risks that I can think of with the metro have to do with completely different things.
Like the metro infrastructure being shit and collapsing like we’ve seen before or some idiot tripping over the yellow line directly into the path of the train.
But no informal vendor is going to cause either above.
“They Don’t Pay Taxes!”
Many (if not all) of the informal vendors do not pay any taxes.
However, they don’t make jack shit anyhow, do they?
These are people that we understand “have to find work however they can” and we all know that selling chocolate on the ground in the metro isn’t the most lucrative job.
Honestly, I don’t give a shit if they pay taxes or not.
I guarantee you that the tax contributions they would give would be so minimal that it wouldn’t’ fucking matter.
Still, is it just that they don’t pay taxes and every other normal Mexican does?
No, that is technically not fair – why give them a free pass?
I get that.
But, as I said, I just don’t really give a fuck because the amount of money you would get from them paying taxes would be so little given we aren’t talking about some huge number of people like 10,000 workers or something and the amount of money they make is so little that they wouldn’t pay much anyhow.
If you really want to get more tax revenue, try going after richer businesses that perhaps?
"Los más ricos son los que menos contribuyen al Impuesto sobre la Renta en México. La recaudación entre ese grupo apenas es el 10% del impuesto, muy por debajo de países de Europa y Norteamérica, alertaron este lunes la Comisión Económica para América Latina (Cepal) y Oxfam."
Or maybe promote policies that encourage more economic activity that would ultimately drive in more tax revenue that way also.
But going after the little guy who has to sell chocolate or stolen headphones in the metro isn’t going to give funds to cancer kids in Mexico or whatever the tax money would be used for.
And on that note….
“It’s All Stolen Merchandise!”
This is the next argument that these folks basically sell stolen merchandise.
While I don’t understand perfectly what it is they do, this is my basic understanding from what I have been told.
Basically, there’s some group or “mafia” group of people who have these items that they sell.
Easily carry able items like chocolate, cheap headphones, etc.
They then distribute these items to different people desperate for a job to sell in the metro.
Funny enough, the dad of my last girlfriend ran a scheme like this.
I probably should’ve asked him more details on how it works but we do have some folks who claim to know how it works as you can see here.
Anyway, like I said, I don’t understand it perfectly because I never looked too deeply into it.
But people say anyhow that the items in question are stolen (explaining the cheaper prices they offer them for).
If that is true (and I’ve never confirmed it), then I can get why some wouldn’t want to buy their products.
In practice, you’re encouraging bad behavior by giving money to a scheme that will look for more stolen merchandise to sell as long as it remains profitable.
Honestly, I don’t care too much really.
I’ve even bought stolen phones before in Mexico as you can read here.
I’m not really the one to be talking on a moral high ground.
It’s my belief this activity will continue anyway because most people will support it anyhow so mt individual decision to boycott their items isn’t going to impact anything.
Of course, if everyone didn’t have that mentality, then they would not be profitable anymore.
But, unfortunately for me, I don’t control the mentality of most other people.
So, as long as everyone else supports it, I will too because it’s not going away and I don’t mind saving a few bucks on the stuff I buy in the metro versus outside.
And on that point about crime….
“They’d Become Criminals if You Take Their Job Away”
This is one argument I have heard by some folks against the idea of kicking these people out of the metro.
Basically, if you stop them from selling inside, then they will find other means to support themselves.
Those other means could include directly stealing shit themselves or other forms of crime.
While I can’t confirm if the items they sell are stolen or not, it would be ironic if true when considering this new argument now.
I mean, aren’t they already involved in a mafia of sorts that is involved in crime?
Sure, each person individually might become a criminal now instead of selling stolen shit from other criminals.
But, if the rumor is right about them selling stolen shit, then they are already contributing to a mafia network of crime and theft.
This argument doesn’t make much sense to me if the rumor is true about the origin of the items they sell.
This is another argument I hear among some who hate the informal vendors.
As you can tell, it’s more directed at the feminist vendors.
The idea being that the feminist ones are manhating and shouldn’t be supported.
I’ve even heard some Mexicans bring up stories of how these vendors won’t sell to men supposedly.
Honestly, I have no idea if that is true or is just bullshit.
I’m sure there must be one feminist vendor out there who won’t sell to men because her father never loved her or her last boyfriend dumped a load in her leaving behind a kid he won’t support.
Thus, her anger on men is taken out on others.
Still, I’ve seen men buy from the feminist ones before.
It wouldn’t surprise me though – like with the feminist vendor in El Rosario described in the intro of the article – if some of them carry nastier attitudes towards male customers.
But honestly, even if that was a common issue, who gives a fuck?
Go woke go broke then, bitch.
You don’t got my support and maybe not the support of 50% of the population out there.
No customers, no money.
Go eat insects then when you hungry.
I don’t see it as an issue or as a justification for banning all vendors.
If some feminist ones are rude to customers, it’ll surely work itself out.
Those ones won’t make as much money and, if they are part of a mafia, they will assumingly be replaced by a higher earning member that can sell items better.
That’s all a theory anyhow.
Either way, it doesn’t matter because you can buy your chocolate or stolen headphones elsewhere.
Life goes on.
Personally, while I can see how some feminist vendors could be cunts because a few feminists do have manhating issues, I also wonder to what degree this complaint comes from those who just ideologically opposed to feminism in general and are making up stories that didn’t happen about how they had a bad experience with them.
But it’s not just them that are accused of being rude.
Other Vendors Rude?
As you can see here, some other vendors have been known to be crazy and straight up kill people in confrontation.
And many others have been known to be rude to customers.
There isn’t much for me to say here though.
Even if you had one vendor kill some innocent person in a confrontation or others who cussed out random customers, who gives a shit?
For those who kill, put them away in jail.
For those who are rude, they will assumingly make less money on average than those who aren’t rude.
Maybe replaced by those who can sell items better?
Or, at the very least, you can choose to not do business with them and buy elsewhere.
There’s no shortage of places where you can buy Doritos, chocolate and cheap headphones in Mexico.
Trust me, I’ve bought all 3 plenty of times.
So I see it as a non-issue if some are rude.
But, when discussing their rudeness, you do have specific complaints some bring up.
“They Think They Own the Metro!”
This is one of the more common complaints I’ve heard.
The idea being that these folks supposedly act as if they believe that they own the metro and all of the space inside.
From them taking up so much space to littering everywhere.
Well, as you can see in the intro of this article, some of them do believe that they are the owners of the metro.
Really bitch? I can’t stand here and wait to move on? There’s a huge ass crowd coming my direction.
Still, my opinion here is the same – if some are rude, tell them to fuck off.
I responded how I did to that one chick in El Rosario and life went on.
As long as they aren’t pulling guns on you, then I guess there’s no problem…
Then you have the littering issue as you can see here.
They litter! Fuck up the trains!
Honestly, I’ve never seen them litter anywhere but I have seen endless amounts of litter in the metro stations.
Do they litter?
I could see it honestly.
They work in the metro and they assumingly have to eat and go to the bathroom from time to time.
Not every metro has a bathroom (many don’t) and plenty of metros don’t have any place to dispose of trash.
When writing this article, I did ask some other folks who live in Mexico City if they have seen these vendors do any dumb shit.
According to a friend of mine named Blayde, one apparently took a piss on the ground in the metro in front of him.
And I’ve heard that complaint from others that a few will use the metro as a literal toilet or dump trash when they don’t have a trashcan to throw away the remainder of whatever was for lunch or dinner.
Still, most of the people I have personally seen litter in the metro were other metro users looking to catch a train somewhere.
Either way, it doesn’t make it right.
If someone is littering or pissing in the metro, obviously that should be handled on a case by case basis.
And, if we’re being honest, it is probably a call for the Mexico City government to put in most spots for people to use the bathroom or dispose of their trash in more metro stations.
Not to excuse littering or “informal human waste disposal” but it is a common issue in the city for there to not be enough places to get rid of your trash or take a piss even.
Just having more spots in the metros – especially for those who work in the metro – would be ideal.
“What If You Step on Their Shit?”
Like you have seen in the intro of this article, this actually has been a slight worry of mine.
What if I ever accidently step on some person’s merchandise?
I’ve never had it happen thankfully but, being a gringo, I can only imagine that said vendor would try to seize the opportunity and charge me 10x the price of what it sells for if I stepped on something by accident.
I could especially see it happen to someone walking in a very busy crowd.
Still, it’s never been an issue for me anyhow up to this point.
Have yet to step on someone’s merchandise but I have heard some stories of people accidently doing this and confrontation ensures.
The Folks Selling Inside the Trains
Then you have bitching about people who sell these same items inside the trains themselves.
People complaining that they technically aren’t allowed inside the train.
Here’s a video of some “activist” taking a stand against them.
Honestly, while I like other videos from that same Youtube channel, he comes across as a fag in that video.
Like seriously – leave the fucker alone and let him make his living.
He literally isn’t bothering anyone outside of just advertising the shit he has to sell to make a living.
I’ve taken the metro many times and have no issue hearing some dude yell out “CHOCOLATE!! CHOCOLATE!!! SE VENDE CHOOCLATE 5 PESOS!!!”
If that bothers you, you’re autistic as fuck about noise.
Being honest, I feel like some of the backlash these people get come from those who simply don’t want the sight of poor people having to do a less than ideal job.
Like you can see here – how will the sight of these people impact tourism and the perception of our country?!?
Bitch, you’re in Mexico.
Everybody already knows that there is poverty in Mexico.
And, being honest, shit like this shooting here cause much worse issues for your country’s imagine than some random ass person selling Doritos inside the metro.
The foreigners don’t give a shit about these people and probably are more understanding of their situation and to walk around them than you.
Either way, based on that and other discourse you read or hear about these folks, there is a classist sentiment I pick up that basically equates to “I don’t want people as poor them within eyesight.”
Fuck off – everyone needs to make it somehow.
And, by the way, the irony here is that some Mexicans who bitch about these folks along those lines don’t really have it nice themselves.
Like shit – you, as some random ass Mexican, literally sell phone plans to people in Gustavo A. Madero making 200 bucks a month.
Stop trying to think you’re better than these folk, you wannabe Polanco Fifi you.
And -- for the actual Polanco Fifi who complains about these folks-- eh, who am I kidding. They have a car to drive around and probably don’t use the metro as much or if ever.
A Sign of the Informal Economy
Having said all of that, I also think too that the simple fact that people have to work in the informal economy to get by is an obvious sign of the economy not working for the average person in Mexico like in other countries.
While I think these folks should be allowed to sell their products in whatever way is the most efficient that doesn't impact metro users, I also think that it's not a job that we should look at as a positive sign of the economy.
In Mexico like other Latin American economies, you have a significant percentage of the working population having to do informal work as you can see here.
"Al segundo trimestre de 2021, la población ocupada incorporó poco más de 10.5 millones personas respecto al mismo periodo del año anterior, de los cuales 8.2 millones, el 78 por ciento del total, fue en actividades informales."
Ultimately, a Mexico that is stronger is one that has less people working informally.
Meaning less people having to work informally in the metro for example where these same folks have better labor opportunities elsewhere.
It's something to bring up because, as I said, I don't think it's bad necessarily that they work this way but it is a negative sign of the national economy in Mexico.
Final Verdict: Yay or Nay?
Honestly, I think some of the issues could be resolved depending on the metro.
For example, people complain about lack of space walking.
While that has never been an issue for me, why not just have these vendors sell their shit outside of the metro?
Granted, for some metros like Pantitlan, Copilco, 18 Deportivo de Marzo or CU, you already have so many people selling shit outside the metro.
But you got plenty of metro stations also, like Juanacatlan or Lindavista, you got plenty of space outside where you could have these people selling their shit outside.
Hell, even by Bellas Artes metro, you got various points of entry into that metro station where you could have more of the people selling outside than inside.
So on and so on.
Therefore, for plenty of metro stations, you could have the activity be done outside instead.
And, being honest, I don’t see much issue with having a few inside the metro either.
Obviously, there are some spaces where they shouldn’t be placed to allow easier movement of people.
But you also got some metro stations – like Consulado – where you do have plenty of space inside where you could strategically put some vendors in spots where it wouldn’t limit movement of people too much.
And you got other metro stations – like Agricola Oriental – that don’t get too much traffic where you could place a few vendors inside also.
Then you have the tax issue.
Honestly, like I said, I don’t care as much about this because I don’t see much tax revenue from these folks given their low incomes anyhow.
But I think it is easily solvable.
Just look into whoever is giving them the merchandise to sell and hit the supplier with requests to show where they are getting their income from.
Ultimately, you get the suppliers to be more transparent about who they are hiring and so on.
Either way, what’s the final verdict?
Personally, I don’t see much issue with having them operate inside.
Perhaps reform it to a degree.
Have them placed in better spots, go after the suppliers, ignore the rude vendors and let them lose more of their business, etc.
Either way, that’s how I see it.
If you got your own opinion, drop a comment below in the comment section.
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Thanks for reading.