Recently here in La Paz, voices were raised via a radio talk show, concerning the presence of unlicensed and/or unregistered foreigners doing business at the post office park’s Tianguis Natural farmers’ market. The program host Miguel Angel Ojeda, as his custom, read aloud text messages received by listeners. The concern was that it was unfair and illegal that residents were not being allowed to sell their wares and that foreigners were verbally abusive and receiving money that should be going to the local citizenry.
Mr. Ojeda also accepted telephone calls from supporters of the farmers’ market, rebutting the claims by the texters. One such caller stated, “I am a Mexican citizen and am proud to associate with the foreigners who created the market and come to sell their organic and natural products. They operate licensed businesses, pay taxes and observe all rules and requirements for lucrative activities in Mexico,” The caller, Cristina Campos the marmalade lady, also suggested that the persons doing the complaining and who had been refused space at the market were street artisans, who already had been granted designated areas to display and sell their wares… Persons sympathetic to the efforts put forth by the organizers of the Tianguis Natural notified steering committee members of a planned inspection by officials of immigration.
In the established guidelines for the participants in the Tianguis Natural, acknowledgement is made that all persons who sell hold themselves responsible for having all necessary permissions and paperwork in place.
A uniformed inspector for the National Immigration Institute presented himself to one of the steering committee members on the next market day, presenting documents issued by the regional director authorizing him to review the immigration status of the vendors. With total professionalism and courtesy on the part of the inspector, he discreetly began to examine sellers’ paperwork. A total of three of the twenty-some participants of the market were asked to report to the immigration office at their earliest convenience to respond to apparent irregularities in their permissions. No one was detained or arrested and no property or money was seized.
The Tuesday and Saturday markets will continue over the long heat season, however the venue for the Tuesday market will change. For fresh produce, cheese, breads and artwork and ware, sellers will congregate on the shaded patio of Sabores de Mexico, located on Madero at Constitucion, directly across the street from Pan D’Les Bakery and Las Manitas ARTesanias. The markets begin at 9:30, with all vendors in place by 10 a.m.