Mercado sobreruedas

A street market

All the sobreruedas are street markets set up directly on the streets in front of houses, often blocking entrances or access to garages. On the one hand, this can create a lot of trouble for the people living on these streets. Sometimes neighbors unite and file a complaint with the mayor´s office which can result in the removal of a market, but the unions also have a lot of political strength and they work to keep the markets open. On the other hand, the markets give life to the neighborhood. They provide people with a place where they can come together as a community, see their neighbors, meet new people and socialize. This is why despite the disruptions to traffic many people do not regard the markets as a problem. Rather, they value them as an important aspect of their everyday life.

In the context of Tijuana, the fact that the markets are installed on the street and create a social space open to everyone is extremely important. There are certainly other public spaces to socialize in Tijuana, but since its foundation, the city has lacked formal public spaces where people can gather. Shopping centers play an increasing role as public spaces for the community, but because these places are more difficult to reach and the goods are more expensive, access is limited by class and social position. Although both sobreruedas and shopping centers are places of commerce, the space of a street market such as the sobreruedas is very different from that of a shopping center, which is designed to present a constant atmosphere of perfection, with air, light and smells constantly monitored. As Beatriz Sarlo (2009) argues, the shopping center opposes the chaos of the city, while the street market confirms its chaotic dynamics.

Another important quality of all the sobreruedas markets is the fact that they come to the people. Since these markets are installed in different parts of the city, people don’t have to drive a long way to take their family for an ice cream or just to walk, they can perfectly do this in their own neighborhood once a week. This is particularly interesting given the everyday violence that exists in many of the popular neighborhoods of Tijuana. There are neighborhoods where people avoid walking on the street except for market days. In these neighborhoods, the markets serve as a means of conserving a space of tolerance and community interaction. Often, even the drug dealers and the gunmen take their families to walk or to get something to eat at the market. In general, people continue to respect the markets because they create a much needed space for the community to breathe, to relax, to talk, to walk and to share. In that sense, the sobreruedas are extremely important in the popular, poorer neighborhoods of Tijuana because they are one of the few social institutions that function as a vehicle for creating a sense of community.

Geovanni Zamudio
Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana


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