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Barcelona City Hall tackles sellers on the run
Mayor of Barcelona, ​​Ada Colau, May 25, 2015. EMILIO MORENATTI / AP

It's a phenomenon that has taken on an uncontrolled dimension In Barcelona. In less than a minute, manteros (clothiers), the name given to the sellers on the sly, in reference to the fabrics that they bend, expose their goods to the ground. Counterfeit FC Barcelona jerseys, designer sunglasses, keychains, jewelery, pirated movies … A rope connects the four corners of their "sheet", allowing them to escape in seconds as soon as the mossos (Catalan police) arrive.

After years of laissez-faire, the Barcelona City Council has decided to tackle the problem. Since Monday, July 29, she has deployed three joint police forces (the guardia urbana, the mossos and port police) to prevent street vendors from settling on public roads. The manteros were taken by surprise. New Deputy Mayor for Security Albert Batlle said it was "à  © eradicate" the "top manta", the name given to this illegal activity, and taken over by a "street vendors union" created in 2015 to try to legalize their work.


This policy marks a renunciation for Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona since 2015 and close to the radical left party Podemos. In her first term, which ended in May, this former housing rights activist wanted to adopt another method of manteros than her predecessors. The mayor had asked the police to limit the number of interventions in the day, to do it in the early morning. It had also set up conversion plans and awarded sellers on the sly 1.1 million euros of aid. She invoked their  " © vulnà © rabilitÃ". Most of them are of African descent and in an irregular situation on the Spanish territory.

Merchants, restaurant owners in Barcelona and associations of local neighbors then accused the mayor of laxity and aggravated the concern. During his re-election campaign, Mme Colau was attacked by all its opponents: the Popular Party (PP, conservative) and Ciudadanos (Cs, center right). Manuel Valls, whose candidacy was supported by Cs, said he would end this phenomenon. "In three months". Second in the May 26 municipal elections, the leader was only able to keep her position thanks to the voices of the Socialists and the former Socialist Prime Minister to block Catalan nationalism.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Manuel Valls contributes to the maintenance of Ada Colau at Barcelona City Hall

"Criminalizing Poverty"

While city council polls indicate that insecurity has become the first concern of the inhabitants of Barcelona, ​​the deputy safety post has been awarded to Albert Batlle. , a socialist reputed for his zero tolerance. It expects to deploy about 100 agents from 10 am to 10 pm. This intensive patrol will take place in several tourist areas of the port area, real hotspots of street vending: the paseo (walk) Joan of Borbó, on the port, but also the Catalonia Square, the Rambla or the paseo de Gracia.

"We are satisfied because the laws that exist against the illegal sale are enforced", greets Fermin Villar, president of the association of the Friends of the Rambla and spokesman of the platform of the people affected by the illegal sale. Even if, for him, this answer comes "Too late for the city"because he claims that the number of street vendors has grown from nearly 400 in 2015 to 2,000 currently. The mayor estimates rather that they are between 600 and 700, with peaks at 800 during tourist periods.

On their side, street vendors are worried about Ada Colau's turn.  € œItâ € ™ s very sad to see that a municipality on the left is putting in place the measures that the right of the country is dreaming of  », complains a spokesman for "Top Manta", who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of legal representation. He sees in this device a way of "Criminalize poverty". Nearly 350 manteros of the union and sympathizers reacted, protesting on Friday August 2 at the cry of "No one is illegal! AT" in front of Barcelona City Hall. Visibly embarrassed, Ada Colau has not yet given their request for an appointment.

Paloma Dupont From Dinechin

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