Downtown Guadalajara has never looked so serene for a long time. As night began to fall on Tuesday, an uncanny hush had descended over el Centro’s plazas, pedestrian precincts and sidewalks. The eerie stillness prevailed wherever you looked: the quaint gardens outside the San Francisco and Aranzazu churches; the Liberacion, Tapatia, Fundadores, Universidad and Guadalajara plazas; the Zaragoza, Ramon Corona, Pedro Loza and Morelos walkways.
The scene in downtown Guadalajara Wednesday.
Thanks to the intervention of almost 1,000 city officials, employees and police officers divided into 37 teams, Mayor Enrique Alfaro had carried out his promise and successfully banished hundreds of ambulant vendors from their places of work.
Although the evictions had been previously announced and steps taken to provide the traders with alternative spaces or jobs, Guadalajara authorities had feared trouble. In the days leading up to the operation, angry vendors staged protests outside city hall, some chaining themselves in a line to draw greater attention to what they called the “aggressive tactics” of the newly installed mayor and his team. Leaders of the vendors had vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to defend their work spaces.
As it transpired, Tuesday’s smoothly run operation went off without incident and most of the traders meekly packed up their merchandize and left without undue fuss.
“When have we ever seen the city center looking so clean and ordered?” a triumphant Alfaro tweeted later that evening. His target of cleaning up the downtown area had been ratified a day earlier by the city council, which voted unanimously in favor of a new regulation – going by the elaborate title Funcionamiento de Giros Comerciales y el de Imagen Urbana – that revoked all previous permits issued to vendors, set up new rules for street traders and gave the green light for Tuesday’s evictions.
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