Asociación Vendedores Ambulantes

Juan Batalla

I came to the United States in 1993 and have never returned to my home, Guerrero, México. My town is called Cruz Blanca and is located in Teloloapan. There I was a bricklayer but now I cannot continue my work because I am 70 years old.

I have been a street vendor for seven years. I sell lemon, strawberry, vanilla, and mango ice. A man brings me the ice and we split the profits fifty/fifty. I travel to Polanzki and 59th and do not return home until 6 or 7 in the evening. A number of blocks depend upon my sales.

The police have given me 12 tickets. I needed to have someone watch my back and so I joined the Asociación de Vendedores Ambulantes.

Before I worked in construction with my children, but the company fired me. I had worked for them for almost seven years of my life, but then, as a result of “No Match,” the manager told me that if I did not have my papers, I could not come to work. The other employees laughed at the two of us who were fired in 1996.

Lucy Morales

“I have been a street vendor on the same corner for 18 years,” says Lucy Morales, a vendor on 26th street. "Throughout all of these years, I have sold on this street and now I have clients who search for me and worry when I am not at my corner. I have lived to see all of the children on the block grow.

Because I have been here for so many years, I now pay taxes. Recently the new bill arrived for some 800 dollars even though I did not make a lot this year. I pay taxes so that I can receive help paying for my house.

I arrived [in the United States] in 1989, and from then on I have been a street vendor. I met Campos, the old leader of the vendors, in 1992 when the police began to give us tickets and pick up carts. During this period, the Department of Sanitation would show up and throw your product out or poison it with Clorox. It was difficult for us but we did not give up. We continued to fight and win.

I am not afraid of politicians. We have experienced their tactics for many years and now we know how to fight until we have licenses. In the end, we must not live in order to die, and I am not afraid. We have to tell the truth.”