Sunday, April 1, 2018

In Barcelona: A victory (and a new brand) for "top manta" street sellers

Photo by: Playground Do]
"The second week of March has been especially tragic for Spain's street vendors after the death by cardiac arrest of Mame Mbaye, of Senegalese origin, after running from the police.

This event contrasts, however, with two hopeful successes: the massive participation in the rallies in solidarity with Mbaye and the success of a crowdfunding campaign to finance a project that seeks to improve the living conditions of the collective in Barcelona: its own commercial brand, Top Manta [meaning “top blanket,” referring to the blankets on which many street vendors display their wares].
The project has been launched by the Trade Union of Street Vendors in Barcelona, an association formed by migrants hailing from various countries in Africa who have found a form of subsistence in street vending because of the administrative obstacles to working under the requirements of the law.
Under the slogan “Surviving is not a crime,” the Union was created in 2015 as “a way to support [themselves] in the face of the harshness of selling in the street day to day, and as a way to defend [themselves] in the face of institutional racism, persecution, and criminalization.”
Preceding the creation of the Union and the Top Manta brand is over a decade of fighting, self-organization, and construction of solidarity networks.

“We are creative individuals with ideas and ambition, like you.”

The idea of creating Top Manta was already announced by the collective in 2017, along with a promotional video released by online media Playground Do that has already reached more than 1 million hits. In it, Aziz Faye, spokesman of the Union and tailor by profession, explains how after eight years without employment, he discovered the dignity of this street vendor work despite police harassment, discrimination from other people, and an income that barely reaches 200 euros a month."
From my own research I learnt that importantly, a Barcelona council investigation found that there was "no mafia" involvement in the supply of products to top manta. It is believed though that there are organized groups related to the trafficking of people who bring these immigrants to Spain and there are also "bands" linked to counterfeit goods. 

Read more from source at GlobalVoices here.

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