The faces of the Market: Stakeholder meeting at “El Rio” Restaurant

by Melanie & Henry

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During Thursdays afternoon we were getting an insight in the opinions and needs of the stakeholders at the El Rio building, which has become our meeting point during our days of fieldwork. This time, interested people were invited to provide answers to our many questions. The diversity of the stakeholders was as overwhelming as the diversity of the market itself: It ranged from a rather illustrious member of the chamber of commerce to a single parenting mother selling water in the streets of the mercado. The teaching team had arranged a “speed dating” for the students and stakeholders to get in touch: while the students sat in groups at different tables, stakeholders would move from one table to the next within a timeframe of 5 minutes. A lively discussion started to take place on the terrace high above the smelly caño. Sometimes emotionally, sometimes firm and rationally people were telling us about having trouble with garbage, dirt and robbery, about the daily life on the market or about their keen masterplans to turn the market into a formal city center, while sandwiches and cold drinks were handed over. But must of them doubt that a real change it is going to happen. We heard about close friendships amongst many vendors, also serving as protection and the woman selling water, shortly before crying, explained how she has to hide herself every time an official comes by because her work is not considered legal- even tough she has papers, which prove the legality.

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Undoubtedly, the needs of all these people are different if not opposing each other. Our goal in the next days will be to entangle this complex situation and, in conclusion, how to find a way to meet as many of these needs as possible.

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