After five years of the removal of street vendors in Belo Horizonte from the streets to popular malls, the main concerns of workers seem to have materialized. Street vendor sales fell significantly and, with the end of the rent subsidy policy, workers are finding it difficult to pay their bills. Many even had to close their businesses.
Vicente de Paula’s rent, for example, went from R$900 to more than R$2,000 per month. With no financial return to bear the cost, the street vendor intends to close his shop. “Look at the movement. Has anyone been here so far? Nobody goes here. When a customer comes here, it’s because they already know me”, he complains.
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The worker who, since he was 9 years old, works as a street vendor, demands a solution to the problem. “Either the city hall gives me a place on the street to work, which was what I had and they took me, or they find another place, but not inside a mall”, he points out.
Relationships in malls are problematic
In addition to prices and lack of customers, another complaint from workers concerns the management of private malls. Some street vendors denounce that there is unequal treatment between street vendors and other shopkeepers. In addition, according to the category, thefts and fights in the units are constant.
Maria dos Reis also complains about the lack of understanding of entrepreneurs with the situation of street vendors during the pandemic. “To enter [no shopping], we had to pay, otherwise they would seal our box and not let us work. Then I had to pay, we paid. Everyone there paid,” she reports.
City Hall has not yet come up with a solution.
The removal of street vendors was regulated by Law 11,074/2017, which provided for a staggered five-year subsidy on the price of rentals, a term that ends in 2022. Even with the predictability of the end of the benefit, so far, the executive has not announced any measure effective for the situation.
The president of the Street Vendors Association, Adjailson Severo, explains that the category tries to negotiate a solution with the city hall. Last week, the entity participated in a meeting with the Secretariat of Urban Policies of the City of Belo Horizonte (PBH) to discuss the topic. The workers’ proposal is the creation of an open-air camelódromo managed by the executive, a suggestion that, according to the category, is being evaluated by the city hall.
“We need the help of public agencies and the city hall as soon as possible, because we have fathers and mothers of families who are already starving, and have nowhere else to get another source of income”, he emphasizes.
As a palliative proposal, the category recently won the transfer of some street vendors to the Caetés municipal mall. Elizabete Lúcia was one of the beneficiaries. Without having to pay rent, she believes that the situation is improving.
“It’s better. Especially because we work more in peace, more peacefully. There, you didn’t have peace to work”, declares the worker, who claims to have witnessed several fights inside the private malls.
Macaé Evaristo (PT), one of the councilors of Belo Horizonte who is following the street vendors’ claim, points out that, with the pandemic and the worsening economic situation in the country, the number of street vendors in the city has grown significantly and needs attention from the public authorities.
“It is necessary to act, have public policies, create spaces where they can carry out their activities with dignity so that they can survive and support their families”, he points out.
Asked about the future of street vendors and the complaints pointed out by workers against the owners of shopping malls, the City of Belo Horizonte did not respond until the closing of this report.
remember the case
With the Hipercentro Revitalization Plan, in July 2017, around 1,200 workers were removed from the streets of Belo Horizonte. Some street vendors were given parking spaces at the Uai Centro and Uai O Ponto shopping malls, in Venda Nova, both managed by the private sector. However, since the beginning of the partnership, workers have reported problems at the units.
Source: BdF Minas Gerais
Editing: Larissa Costa