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'Exchange for food,' reads street vendor Margarita's sign in Los Cabos. 'Exchange for food,' reads street vendor Margarita's sign in Los Cabos.

As sales plunge, Los Cabos vendors trade goods for food

Margarita exchanges hats for food to feed her children

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Without tourists to sustain the normally thriving informal economy in Baja California Sur, street vendors in Los Cabos have resorted to bartering directly for food in order to survive.

Such vendors commonly earn just enough for them and their families to get by day to day and do not have the option to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic in home isolation.

“I need food in order to feed my children, that’s why I’m exchanging my hats for food,” said Margarita, a street vendor originally from Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. She supports her family by selling woven sunhats from Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla.

But sales dropped to zero after the coronavirus pandemic similarly tanked the local tourist economy.

Having had little success bartering her hats, Margarita said that she, her husband and their four children are currently getting by thanks to the charity of people who want to help.

“Really, I’m not gonna wear the hat, but out of solidarity I exchanged a few stewed dishes for two of her hats. It’s preferable to her having to turn to crime,” said a woman who traded with Margarita.

The immediate future does not look bright for Margarita or anyone else in the state who depends on visitors to make a living. State Tourism Minister Luis Humberto Araiza López said he expects the pandemic to cost the region tens of billions of pesos in revenue.

“… we’re expecting a 10-point loss in the tourism gross domestic product at the national level, in Baja California Sur this will mean a drop of 20 billion pesos (US $819 million),” he said, adding that the loss at the national level is expected to total around US $10 billion.

The vendors in Los Cabos aren’t the only ones in the country who have had to adapt to the caprice of the Covid-19 pandemic. Street merchants from Acapulco to Cuernavaca to Mazatlán have been changing out their normal products for face masks in order to meet demand and be able to get by.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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