It is common for Mérida residents to see the “Chiapaneca” women walking around Centro day and night, carrying a heavy burden of embroidered blouses, shirts, scarfs, hiplies and other clothing items, asking everybody they meet “¿Quiere blusas?” (Want a blouse?), that it would never cross minds that these people are being controlled by organized groups of men that literally exploit them and make them work long hours under the sun or during the evening, walking the streets of the city with heavy loads on their backs.
Most tourists don’t even know that these poor women are from the state of Chiapas. They just see them as part of the downtown scenario, and yes, many travelers (and some locals too) buy stuff from them, without realizing that they are somehow contributing to this illegal operation, that fundamentally sell large quantities of merchadise, without paying any taxes, exploiting these poor people, who for lack of education and culture can not claim and assert their rights as workers.
These people do not have social security or any legal benefits, and many of them are out there carrying their babies around while they work, and of course those infants do not have any benefits either.
The Director of Economic Development and Tourism of the City Council, Eduardo Seijo Solís, pointed out that three well-organized groups that operate in Mérida’s Centro that are engaged in illegal trade and that according to the official statement; “it will be complicated to dismantle them”.
These groups of illegal merchants are the Chiapanecos that sell clothes from their state, as well as hammocks and hipiles.
But there is another group of people known as the “enganchadores” that go around the downtown area trying to engage into conversation with foreign tourists, and once they catch their attention, they offer them guayaberas, clothing and other items at ridiculously high prices that range between $ 15,000 and $ 25,000 pesos, deceiving their customers claiming that these are Maya crafts, when most of these products are “Made in China”! Unfortunately these type of vendors have multiplied in the city, and municipal authorities are doing nothing about it.