Chilapa's Sunday market, closed by coronavirus. Chilapa's Sunday market, closed for three weeks.

Due to coronavirus, Guerrero street market closed for first time in 500 years

Drug-related violence slowed it down but never stopped it

The weekly street market in Chilapa, Guerrero, was cancelled on Sunday for the first time in 500 years in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Perhaps one of the oldest of such markets in Mexico, the Chilapa tianguis has persisted in spite of adversity, especially during the last decade, due to drug-related violence.

The situation came to a head in 2014 when the violence severely slowed down market activity, but did not stop it completely. Many rural transportation companies suspended services, making it difficult for farmers to make it to the city to sell their goods. Others never returned: they were either killed or fled the insecurity.

The violence kept market activity to a minimum for years, but nothing was able to stop it completely, until now.

The Chilapa municipal government notified the more than 1,000 vendors who set up their booths under the plastic tarps each Sunday that the tianguis would be cancelled as of yesterday, and would remain closed for the two following Sundays.

The pandemic had already begun to take its toll on the weekly commerce in Chilapa, as the number of visitors has decreased dramatically during the crisis. For weeks the market ran at minimum capacity, covering local demand but little more.

Now the subsistence farmers, artisans and other local and regional merchants who depend on the tianguis for their livelihood don’t even have the option to barter their goods, a custom that is still practiced in this and other such markets in Mexico.

The crisis has hit those in the informal economy hard. Some street vendors in Baja California Sur have even resorted to bartering directly for food to survive in the absence of the tourists on which they depend for sales.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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