Mexico street artists and vendors worry about virus-hit future
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Mexico street artists and vendors worry about virus-hit future
Aerial view of the empty Zocalo square in Mexico City taken on March 25, 2020 at around eight am. Central squares and parks in Latin America, which otherwise would be crowded, remained empty Wednesday at around eight am due to the lack of people circulating, as the world faces the new coronavirus pandemic. ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP.

by Yussel Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (AFP).- Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, Luis Valdovinos was earning about $12 a day playing his barrel organ in the streets of Mexico City.

Now, it's taking him a lot longer to make that much money.

The streets of the Mexican capital are emptying out with each passing day, as residents become more and more aware of the need to practice social distancing to curb the virus's spread.

For performers like Valdovinos, such measures are threatening his livelihood.

"Some people have money (to offer), and the rest of them can go to hell," said the 46-year-old, whose instrument creates a somewhat ominous drone that fits the mood of a city in fear.

"All of Mexico is afraid. Businesses are closing. Unfortunately, those of us who live off the streets every day are the ones who are hit hardest."

Valdovinos is part of the whopping 56 percent of all Mexicans who work in the informal economy. No taxes, no social security, no safety net.

Many of those people live day to day, and simply cannot work from home, as tens of millions of people around the world with typical office jobs are able to do.

"Those who cannot have a 'home office' run a greater risk of suffering the economic and social consequences of this public health crisis," said the advocacy group Citizen Action Against Poverty.

"Their low income and list of needs make these people the most vulnerable in a virus pandemic scenario that requires quarantining and social distancing," the group said.

'No other choice'
Gabriel Gonzalez is facing many of the same problems as Valdovinos.

The 42-year-old Gonzalez is a street clown -- he specifically dons the make-up of the sinister Pennywise from Stephen King's "It."

Before the coronavirus crisis erupted, he could count on making about $40 a day in fees paid by tourists wanting to take pictures with him.

Now, he's making 10 times less than that, as the mega-city of more than 20 million people turns into a virtual ghost town, and tourists are scarce.

"It's hard at home right now. But we have no other choice but to keep working," Gonzalez told AFP.

'What else can we do?'
Salvador Alvarado, 51, slices meat for traditional Mexican tacos. His business has slowed to a near halt.

"What else can we do? Nothing. We can just keep working," he says with a mix of anger and resignation.

"People don't want to go out to eat anymore. They are totally panicked. If everything shuts down, we'll see how well we can survive."

So far, Mexico has more than 350 confirmed coronavirus cases, and has registered four deaths.

The food and restaurant business is one of the sectors hardest hit by the health crisis. Many employees, who earn the minimum wage, say they fear greater hardships as the pandemic drags on.

On social media, Mexicans call for residents to order takeout meals from small mom-and-pop restaurants and shops, to help save those businesses from going under.

But Alsea, a Mexican company that operates major US chains such as Burger King and Starbucks, came under sweeping criticism for granting employees 30 days of unpaid leave -- some even called for the chains to be boycotted.

'Don't stop going out!'
The Mexican economy, the second-largest in Latin America after Brazil, is bracing to take a major hit from the coronavirus crisis.

Several analysts have predicted that the economic slowdown in 2020 could reach four percent.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador admitted last week that a crisis was on the horizon and, in a video message broadcast on social media, asked Mexicans to keep going to restaurants to shore up the industry.

"Don't stop going out!" he urged. "I'll tell you when it's time not to go outside anymore."

Moises Villanueva, 63, gets paid on a commission basis for steering customers to a city optician.

He says Lopez Obrador is on the right track, even as medical experts plead with nations around the world to keeps their citizens at home.

"It doesn't help anything to scare people," Villanueva says, as he hand out flyers offering glasses at low prices.

Villanueva admits his bottom line is taking a hit.

He's only getting one of every three or four potential clients to consider the optician, meaning he needs to think about other sources of income.

"The people who will die are people like me," he said. "I've lived long enough, and it has to happen sometime."

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

March 26, 2020

Facing crisis, arts groups push for their own bailout

Mister Rogers song and Dr. Dre added to National Recording Registry

Hauser & Wirth opens an online-only exhibition of drawings by Louise Bourgeois

The merry-go-round stopped. What sort of art will emerge?

Tony Awards postponed amid coronavirus crisis

Private collection draws spotlight in Heritage's Design Auction

Sotheby's updates Hong Kong Modern Art Evening & Contemporary Art Sales schedule

Leila Heller Gallery opens its first exhibition of works by Abdul Qader Al Rais

Exhibition featuring works by American artist Carole Seborovski opens at Galerie Karsten Greve

34th Bienal de São Paulo announces new dates

Manifesta 13, which will take place in Marseille, France, is postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis

For drive-in theaters, an unexpected revival

When fashion tv becomes an anthropological treasure

Mexico street artists and vendors worry about virus-hit future

Luton landmark adorned by giant hat pin

Department of Arts & Culture and Luminaria Artist Foundation join together to support artists

Broadway is shuttered but its buildings sing: A virtual tour

Lorenzo Fusi appointed Artistic Director of the Yerevan Biennial Art Foundation

First solo exhibition in Germany of Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor opens

Anthology Editions publishes 'Death Magick Abundance' by Akasha Rabut

The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art and PHI launch podcast series

Tourism goes virtual in coronavirus-confined California

MOSTYN opens the first presentation in the UK to focus solely on Kiki Kogelnik's ceramic works

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art announces ARTS@Home online lessons

Importance of Culture in Learning of Hard Languages

Menswear style icons from movies

Artists Embrace Lenticular Printing Across Forms

Getting social proof by getting Instagram followers and likes: advantages and disadvantages

How to Choose the best Picture frame

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful