Economic crisis and the assault on marketers in Peru
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086749/00002
 Material Information
Title: Economic crisis and the assault on marketers in Peru
Series Title: WID working papers
Physical Description: 16 p. : ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Babb, Florence E
Publisher: Office of Women in International Development, Michigan State University
Place of Publication: East Lansing MI (202 International Center Michigan State University East Lansing 48824)
Publication Date: c1982
Subjects / Keywords: Markets -- Peru   ( lcsh )
Markets -- Peru -- Huarás   ( lcsh )
Women -- Economic conditions -- Peru   ( lcsh )
Women merchants -- Peru   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Peru
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 14-16.
Statement of Responsibility: by Florence E. Babb.
General Note: "May 1982."
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Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 09155486
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sobekcm - UF00086749_00002
System ID: UF00086749:00002

Full Text


Florence E. Babb
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Colgate University
Hamilton, New York 13346

Paper presented in the panel
Development, Underdevelopment, and Economic Transformations
Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
Los Angeles, California, December 5, 1981



In recent years, the Peruvian government has faced two related and
pressing problems: rising food prices and a proliferation of urban mar-
keters and street vendors. The way in which these problems have been
linked together in an effort to stem Peru's economic crisis is revealing
of national-level interests. This paper will suggest that while it has
served dominant class interests to hold small marketers responsible for
soaring food costs, closer examination shows that both high prices and
the growth of petty commerce are responses to more fundamental economic
problems. My discussion of the Peruvian case may be understood in the
more general context of the situation confronting many third world coun-
tries in which economic underdevelopment is accompanied by an expanding
tertiary sector.
I begin with some brief background to the current economic crisis
in Peru, with attention to food price policy. Then I discuss the rela-
tionship of small marketers to food prices, counterposing the government
policy position with my own view. This is followed by the main body of
the paper, which focuses on developments I observed in 1977 in the pro-
vincial city of Huaraz, where the effects of tightening control of com-
merce at the local level illustrate the human consequences of national
policy directives from Lima. The last portion of the paper reviews re-
ports indicating that since 1977 national efforts to curtail marketing
activity have become an important aspect of repressive government action.

The Political-Economic Setting
The military coup which brought General Juan Velasco Alvarado to
power in 1968 was met with early optimism as the expropriation of foreign
interests and a program of agrarian reform were quickly introduced. Be-
ginning in the.1970s, the military's concern to secure an adequate and
cheap food supply for urban Peru made this a key element in domestic
policy.2 In 1970 an agency, the Empresa P6blica de Servicios Agrope-
cuarios (EPSA), was created to control the marketing of basic foodstuffs
(Fitzgerald 1976:50), and in 1972 the production and marketing of all

agricultural products came under .state control (Strasma 1976:310). By
the end of 1974 a Ministry of Food was established to regulate price struc-
tures on a regional basis, doing away with marketers' control of basic
food prices.
The year 1975, however, marked a downturn in Peru's economy and the
transition to power of the more conservative General Francisco Morales
Bermidez, who was willing to take increasingly harsh measures to try to
manage the crisis. With the encouragement of international lending agen-
cies, his government's policy was to reduce public spending, devalue the
Peruvian sol, and hold down workers' wages while raising the official
prices of primary food items. The result was growing impoverishment for
Peru's working class, and even greater difficulty for the country's unem-
ployed and marginally employed, who make up over half the labor force.
The 1980 civilian elections which brought back the president unseated in
1968, Fernando Belaunde Terry, has meant little relief for this majority
of the population, and on the contrary, under the terms of the new econo-
mic policy unveiled in January 1981, the price rises and other measures
are devastating (Peru Update, February 1981). The present situation in
Peru has sparked popular opposition, from a nationwide general strike
early this year to numerous marches and protests.3

Marketers and Food Prices: Two Views
Much has been written in the last few years concerning the com-
mercialization of agricultural products in Peru, pleading for
the injured rights of the consumer in some cases and for the
legitimate interests of the producer in others. But the almost
invariable factor in the various inquiries has been the simple
chain of the intermediary, presumed responsible for the majority
of problems inherent in this process that concerns-everybody:
the provisioning of food. (Esculies Larrabure et. al. 1977:9,
my emphasis)
Under pressure from middle class consumers, the Peruvian government
has directed considerable attention to controlling food prices since the
early 1970s. Much less attention has gone to the problem of unemployment
and underemployment which Peru's less powerful constituencies face. Lack
of employment opportunities is most dramatic in Lima, but in provincial
cities like Huaraz, with little industry, the level of unemployment is

also high. The problem would be even more severe were it not for the
fact that a growing segment of the population is counted among the self-
employed--a large number in petty commerce. In a limited but important
way, small-scale marketers reduce the national employment problem by sus-
taining themselves during a time of economic hardship. Just the same,
the government has pointed the finger at commercial intermediaries as a
group, holding them responsible--as the preceding quotation suggests--
for the troubles Peru has in provisioning its people with food at afford-
able prices.
Let us take a look then at the connection between marketers and
Peru's food price problem.
From the vantage point of middle class consumers and their represen-
tatives in government there is a direct correspondence between the number
of marketers engaged in the distribution process and the ultimate cost of
food to buyers. Small retailers, who make up the last link in the "chain
of intermediaries" are often singled out for attack since they are both
the most numerous and the most visible to consumers. These small market-
ers are viewed as providing an inessential service, bringing goods to
urban neighborhoods in very small quantities. Their impoverished and
sometimes unhygienic working conditions are frequently viewed with alarm,
at the same time that these marketers are considered social parasites.
These are the proliferating urban poor, many of them recent migrants to
the cities who have taken up residence in squatter settlements, or pueblos
jovenes, and who now seek work wherever they can find it. Though they
clearly earn little enough in their retailing endeavors, for the urban
consumer their very presence represents an increment in the price paid
for primary foods.
This popularly held view of marketers and street vendors (or ambulan-
tes) in Peru, is shared by some writers who have considered the problem.
Esculies Larrabure et. al. (1977), notwithstanding a sensitivity to the
socioeconomic forces which propel marketers to their work, and a recogni-
tion of the essential nature of the-work they do, is able to conclude that
the reform of the marketing system in Peru must begin with the elimination
of much of the wholesale and retail network, and tighter control of the

rest, along with improved infrastructure.
Of course, there is much that can be said for the irrationality of
the present system of marketing in Peru--where 99 percent of retail acti-
vity is in the hands of small, independent4 sellers (ibid.:181)--and we
may imagine a situation in which economic planning might result in far
smoother functioning of distribution. Certainly, many marketers would
be delighted to leave their market stalls and places in the streets were
there employment alternatives open to them. But, in my view, to suggest
that the state in its present form could accomplish successful reform of
the system overlooks certain critical factors. First, it ignores the
role of the Peruvian government itself in generating and perpetuating
the current economic crisis--and it never considers the broader inter-
national context of the crisis and the implications for Peru's food
prices. Second, this view neglects some important features of the work
of marketers within the present structure of underdevelopment in Peru,
e.g. their capacity to keep down prices, their productive contribution
to the process of bringing goods to consumers, as well as their self-
sufficiency which acts to offset the level of unemployment.
It has been noted that Peru's economic troubles deepened in 1975,
and the nation turned to international lending agencies for assistance.
As Peru became more entrenched in debt over the next few years, the In-
ternational Monetary Fund imposed severe conditions for the granting of
further loans. Peru's compliance with these conditions is to a large
extent responsible for the high cost of living relative to the low pay-
scale of working people in the country. Added to this, the government's
concern to favor development in the capital-intensive "modern" sector
has meant the neglect of the "traditional" sector in which petty market-
ers participate. To the degree that the state has entered into the af-
fairs of the traditional sector, it has done so in the interests of the
urban middle class. In controlling the prices of staple foods, the
Ministry of Food has set bounds on the "profits" marketers make. In the
,case of small retailers, earnings rarely amount to enough to support a
family, much less reinvest in business. In this fashion, by working for
so little reward, marketers help to keep prices at a tolerable level.

To appreciate the contribution that marketers make, it is important
to assess the work they do within the framework of the total production
process. On the one hand, the work of bringing goods to the consumer is
necessary to the realization of the products' value; as the final step
in the production process as a whole, just as it is an indispensable so-
cial service. Moreover, the work of marketers generally goes beyond the
physical transport of materials from one place to another to include, at
the least, the safeguarding, cleaning, sorting, preserving, measuring,
weighing, and packaging of goods. Many do even more, adding value to the
goods they sell by transforming raw food to cooked food, unprocessed
grains to flour, fresh pork to smoked ham, whole vegetables to chopped
vegetables in packets for soup, and so on. All these activities should
be regarded as productive work for which the consumer pays the marketer,
and this must be figured into any plans for curtailing retail trade.
The importance of marketers' self-sufficiency during a period of
high unemployment has been noted. Their resourcefulness in making a liv-
ing has the double advantage to the government of quelling dissent--to a
degree--and keeping on hand a ready supply of workers who would enter the
wage labor force when called on.
This then is my view of the role of marketers in Peru, and their re-
lationship to present economic problems. In arguing that our analysis
must encompass the wider national and international situation which shapes
the activity of marketers, the food supply, and food prices, I have chal-
lenged the position taken by the government and encouraged in the media,
which portrays marketers as cunning social parasites. The question to be
addressed now is the following: If petty marketers provide essential
services in Peru, and if petty commerce offers employment--however margi-
nal--to members of society who might otherwise be unemployed, then why
has the Peruvian government taken actions which appear to jeopardize the
livelihood of marketers? To answer this question, I turn to consider
some observations I made while carrying out fieldwork in Peru.

The Assault on Marketers: The Case of Huaraz
Field research was undertaken in 1977, which was declared the "Year
of Austerity" in Peru in response to the economic and political demands

of the International Monetary Fund, in exchange for emergency loans. That
year saw rapidly rising food and fuel costs--conditions that have grown
steadily worse--and increasing control over the labor force. Here, I will
describe the increasing regulation of petty tradersby the Peruvian govern-
ment, the response of the marketers themselves, and the implications this
has for our understanding of the economic crisis in the country. I will
refer to national level policy affecting marketers generally, but I will
draw heavily on research I conducted in the Andean city of Huaraz, in
order to show how marketers are meeting the threat to their means of
The city of Huaraz is located some 200 miles north of Lima in the
Peruvian Andes. It is the commercial and administrative capital of the
department of Ancash, and the population of about 75,000 is largely com-
posed of bilingual Quechua-Spanish speakers. Among the city's approxi-
mately 1200 marketers, distributed among four daily markets in the city,
almost 80 percent are women. Women are principally concentrated in the
retail sale of fruits and vegetables and cooked foods. Men tend to be
located in the sale of manufactured goods and in larger scale retail or
wholesale trade. There is considerable overlap, however, in the areas
of women's and men's trade.
Marketers throughout Peru are regulated, taxed, and supervised
through a number of mechanisms. In Huaraz, all marketers must pay for
identification cards showing they have passed yearly medical exams, and
marketers holding permanent stalls must pay annual matriculation fees,
based on the size of their stalls and the type of goods they sell. Daily'
fees are collected from all sellers, again in amounts varying by the type
and quantity of product sold. Other fees are collected for the use of
storage space, scales, and even the latrines. Sellers of meat have vet-
erinary and slaughtering fees to pay, and the wholesalers have special
fees for transporting goods in and out of the city. During the time I
was in Huaraz, the city council called for significant increases in these
fees, and this was met by angry protest and the market unions' discussion
of a possible strike. The council was forced to compromise in this case,
though market taxation still increased.

As noted before, the wholesale and retail prices of basic foodstuffs
are officially controlled in Peru, and when marketers fail to comply with
biweekly changes in prices issued by the Ministry of Food, they may be
heavily fined. Fines are also given for large and .small violations by the
inspectors of hygiene and weights and measures. The authorities have the,
power to remove sellers from the markets if they cannot pay the fees and
fines issued to them. Small retailers maintain--and I think they are
correct--that they must pay a disproportionate share of such fees and
fines, while larger violators, usually wholesalers, are less often appre-
hended and penalized.
These mechanisms for the control of marketers are already sufficient
to make it difficult for many impoverished sellers to carry on their trade,
but recently government control of marketing has been increasing. There
has in fact been a national campaign against the broad category of commer-
cial "intermediaries," in which the government portrays itself as the cham-
pion of urban consumers. The effects of this campaign are strongest in
Lima, but they are felt in cities like Huaraz as well.
In late.June of 1977, while I was in Huaraz, an increasing number of
articles began to appear in the Lima newspapers on the topic of producers'
and wholesalers' markets, which were being established to bring goods more
cheaply to consumers. The Lima dailies La Prensa, El Comercio, and Expreso,
all of which were government-controlled, invariably contained reports of
actions taken for consumers and, .often, against marketers. For example,
on July 1 the Expreso ran the headline "Wholesalers' Stronghold Falls."
Inside the issue, there were no less than three articles on one page de-
voted to the government's decision to open several of Lima's wholesale
markets to the public on a limited basis. The lead article was entitled
"Starting Today: Food at Prices Below Official Rates," and it was accom-
panied by one bearing a title denouncing intermediaries, "They Buy Sweet
Potatoes for Two Soles... And Sell Them for Twelve!" Finally, the third
article addressed housewives, "Prefect to Housewives: You Too are to
Blame for Speculation!" This last article rebuked shoppers for not de-
nouncing marketers they knew to be conducting illegal activities. (Ex-
preso, July 1, 1977:3) These articles and many others around this time

implied that marketers, both wholesalers and retailers, had an undifferen-
tiated responsibility for current high prices and the scarcity of certain
Two days after Expreso celebrated the direct sale of goods from
wholesalers to the public, La Prensa (July 3, 1977) published an article "
announcing the effort was a failure. But instead of criticizing the plan's
conception, La Prensa declared the sellers to be responsible due to their
Back in Huaraz, plans were underway for an Ancash Regional Fair to
take place in the outskirts of the city in late July. The fair was to
feature exhibits by artisans and, as a special attraction, the fair was
to bring producers directly from their fields to sell agricultural goods
to.the public--by now referred to by the government slogan "from the field
to the pot." Despite the fanfare, however, the producers' market was only
a small part of the fair. Indeed, only one actual producer was included
among the ten people selling food at booths. .Others had been recruited
from the Huaraz marketplace and were paid to participate in the event.
For example,.one man who normally sells meat in a Huaraz market was hired
by a nearby agricultural cooperative to represent their organization at
the fair. He explained that the members of the cooperative prefer to
leave the job of selling to the public to marketers. The one producer in
attendance, a man selling wheat and barley, agreed that for producers it
is better to sell quickly to wholesalers and get back to work. The view
that it is better to sell in large quantities to sure buyers rather than
slowly to the public was expressed to me by many producers in the region.
The Regional Fair was not well attended, and those women who came
to shop for food were critical. Some hal to pay for transportation to and
from the fair, and they were annoyed to iave to pay an entry fee as well.
When they got there, they found few sellers, little selection, and long
lines. Furthermore, primary foodstuffs were rationed, so if a woman wanted
to purchase more than, for example, three kilos of rice, she needed to
take her children along to receive extra portions. Several women pointed
out that the saving of a sol or two was not worth the trouble of coming
to the fair, and they spoke appreciatively of the marketplace which better

serves their needs.
Overall, the producers' market at the fair did not have any signi-
ficant impact in the city. Indeed, after it was over an official of the
Ministry of Food apologized for the low participation of agricultural
producers at the fair. Even so, the mayor of Huaraz expressed some in-
terest in turning the fairgrounds into a permanent market for producers
and artisans. This enterprising mayor also had a personal interest in
building a supermarket in the city, though he lacked funds for a such a
project. Clearly, if such plans as these were to materialize in Huaraz,
the situation of small marketers might change considerably.
One marketer responded to the rumors of new markets and expressed
a view shared by many others. He judged the notion of producers' markets
to be a good idea for the public, but a very bad one for wholesalers and
retailers. He explained:
In the first place, for us marketers it would mean marginaliza-
tion. And secondly, what would we do, what work would we dedi-
cate ourselves to? You could become a delinquent, a thief. The
government has not thought this through carefully.
This man went on to make the very important point that the idea of "from
field to pot" is'being implemented only in the area of food production,
where the majority of people involved are not powerful, and not in the
area of manufactured goods, where the really powerful people are. The
government, he noted, cannot control the latter because they constitute
the national bourgeoisie, who rule the country. He commented, moreover,
that he could not see the advantage to agricultural producers in selling
their own goods, since the goods must be divided among marketers in or-
der to get them to the public while they are still fresh. If a producers'
market were established, he said, he would try to buy out producers in
the market. Furthermore, marketers as a group would be certain to launch
a protest.
Another man, a former wholesaler now selling retail, had not heard
about producers' markets before I mentioned them to him. When I asked
how he would feel about one in Huaraz, he said he thought it would be
good since food would cost less. When I asked how it would affect sell-
ers, he reconsidered and said they would not permit a producers' market


to exist in the city. "The people would rise up," he said, and "the re-
tailers would not accept it." He pointed to the high level of unemployment
that would result if these markets were founded.
While marketers may be concerned about the future threat of new mar-
kets in which their jobs might be eliminated, the few showcase producer
and wholesaler markets in Peru had limited success through 1977; The con-
tinued reliance on small marketers testified to the large amount of work
these people do, and suggested it would not be easy to pass this on to
other workers under present conditions.
Still, there was a more immediate way in which marketers were threat-
ened by government actions. While the Lima papers were unveiling a cam-
paign against the abuses of large wholesalers and the proliferation of
intermediaries, reports also revealed government efforts to apply greater
control to one particular group of retailers, the street vendors, or am-
bulantes. In establishing regulations that would affect this group, the
authorities were clearly responding to middle class pressure to do some-
thing about the impoverished sellers who are swelling the streets, parti-
cularly in Lima. Nev legislation, based on studies of "the ambulante pro-
blem," was publicizec, calling for the zoning (i.e. containment), increased
surveillance, and tighter control over the fee collection, price sett:.ng,
and hygienic standards of these vendors. One article (La Prensa, August
6, 1977:10), titled 'How to Eliminate the Factors that Maintain and Stimu-
late Ambulatory Commerce," revealed the government's intentions to close
down some areas where ambulantes sell in Lima, relocate others, and to
direct propaganda to consumers "to orient their attitude toward ambula-
tory commerce..." Such conditions naturally make it very difficult for
many of the poorest vendors to carry on their work.
In Huaraz, similar measures were taken by the city council. In one
action, a committee was formed to oversee the commerce of milk and sugar.
This was designed to control the activities of the "bad merchants that
exist in Huaraz" (El Departamento, August 11, 1977). In another decision
the Inspector of Hygiene determined that 85 percent of ambulantes selling
bread in the city do so under unsanitary conditions. In order to combat
this situation, the council agreed that any sellers not in possession of


a health card would be issued heavy fines. Furthermore, fines were to be
given to those without appropriate baskets and those who did not properly
protect bread from dust, and there was to be more stringent control of
price, quality, and weight.
When we consider the difficulty that even the well-established mar-
keters in Huaraz have in paying their annual fees it becomes clear how
very unlikely it is that poor ambulantes would be able to afford these
fees. The action of the council to tighten these regulations must be
viewed as a threat to ambulantes' way of making a living. Such action
has the further effect of creating divisions among marketers, since some
are singled out for criticism. Indeed, some permanent marketers share
the view of the council, that ambulantes constitute a health hazard and
ought to be controlled.

The Situation Since 1977
Since 1977, the situation of small marketers and street vendors in
Peru has grown much worse. While increased inflation and a controlled
political climate affect the majority of Peruvians, marketers, and parti-
cularly the ambulantes, have continued to be singled out for attack.
A 1978 article in the leftist journal Marka (July 27, 1978:19-20)
on the declining economic and health conditions of the poor in Peru, noted
that petty commerce is the activity to which most people are turning in
an effort to overcome miserable lives. Consequently, this sector has ex-
panded in an "extraordinary manner." Children have been pressed into ser-
vice, as their families struggle to get by. Street vending was little
known outside Lima until recently, but now the streets of provincial cities
are crowded with sellers, "in constant battle with municipal authorities."
In early 1979, Marka (January 4, 1979:12-14) ran an article which ex-
posed the influence of multinationals underlying Peru's "economic packages"
of price hikes. Five multinational interests (among them Purina, Carnation,
and Nestle) were shown to control the price increases of bread, noodles,
milk, and oil. It is not the seller of bread on the corner that benefits
from the rise in prices, the article notes, but rather the monopolies that
control 60 percent of the bread industry in Peru. Likewise the seller of

milk: half of the milk sold in Lima is "Leche Gloria," a subsidiary of
Carnation, while the second largest beneficiary of increased milk prices
is its competitor Perulac, a subsidiary of Nestle. And so on for other
food staples. The article (Ibid.:14) concludes:
Imperialism has us caught by the stomach. There is no question.
To its enterprises, the government is preparing to offer bigger
profits by means of the announced price rises. And it will cast
the blame for the people's hunger on the bread seller on the cor-
ner and the market woman in the street.
This analysis of marketers as scapegoats very closely matches my own, and
points to the need to trace the problem to its roots, to the national and
international linkages.
While Peru's government seeks a scapegoat for its troubles, it also
finds the thousands of vendors that crowd-the capital city's streets sell-
ing everything from apples to men's socks to be a national embarrassment.
Apparently, the public display of so much poverty threatens the image the
government would like to project to international visitors and to its own
middle class. It might also, incidentally, challenge the notion that this
impoverished group is so largely responsible for the economic crisis. Ac-
cordingly, before Belaunde's inauguration in 1980, the government under-
took a campaign to clear central Lima of ambulantes, so that the city would
have a nice appearance for its dignified guests (Bourque and Warren 1981:'
Summer 1981, however, marked the most serious government campaign to
rid Lima of its street vendors (Peru Update, June-July 1981:1-2). In April
a mayor's committee announced that all downtown vendors were to be removed
in mid-June to two clearings on the outskirts of the city. This was met
by a good deal of anger and resistance by the vendors, who knew that their
marginal earnings would be further diminished on the tiny, square-meter
plots assigned to them on the city's remote sites.
The government nonetheless began its relocation program June 8, re-
quiring huge financial expense and the presence of the national guard and
tanks in the streets to ensure its .successful removal of sellers (Carctas
June 8, 1981:23). This was only possible with the use of force, numerous
arrests, and a TV and radio campaign discouraging shoppers from buying


goods in the streets. The secretary general of the Federacion Departa-
mental de Vendedores Ambulantes de Lima (FEDEVAL), the street vendors'
association, projects dire consequences as increased poverty can only
mean increased crime as people try to survive (Marka, June 18, 1981:22).
Meanwhile, the New York Times (September 20, 1981) hails the removal of
vendors a great success, as crime is reduced in Lima's fashionable down-
town area and women "are beginning to wear simple jewelry again."
Some members of the political left in Lima, including the well-known
Hugo Blanco, now a senator, have joined forces with the vendors and FEDEVAL
and marched alongside them June 11 in a peaceful protest of thousands of
men, women, and children that ended in violent confrontation by the nation-
al guard (El Comercio, June 12, 1981). Blanco, who was hospitalized after
the march, commented a few days later on the situation of the vendors in
an interview with Marka (June 18, 1981:21). He pointed to the contradic-
tions of a capitalist government which at the same time creates the con-
ditions which generate the "ambulante problem," and tries to cover its
responsibility by blaming the victims of its policies. Until the govern-
ment comes up with real employment opportunities for the vendor;, he pre-
dicted, we may expect their number to increase.
Similarly, the Peruvian writer Grompone (1981:98) traces tie growth
of petty commerce to the contradictory, and uneven, development of cali-
talism in Peru. He describes the process as one in which anterior econo-
mic forms and social relations are challenged, yet sometimes persist.
Only in this context may we understand the present tensions surrounding
the persistence of small-scale marketing in the country.

Peru's increasingly restrictive policy on the marketing of foodstuffs
and other goods sold by small marketers--though not the actual elimination
of retail marketing--may be viewed as an attempt to generate sympathy for
the government's handling of the e:onomic-crisis, or at least to turn at-
tention away from the source of the crisis. Keeping food prices at a toler-
able level is of critical importance to the Peruvian government, yet this
has been increasingly difficult since austerity measures were introduced.

In an attempt to appease middle class and working class consumers in the
face of soaring food prices, the government has turned impoverished mar-
keters into scapegoats--scapegoats who suffer doubly from rising prices,
as sellers whose business is declining and as consumers themselves. Pre-
sent government policy has the effect of dividing consumers and marketers;
largely women, obscuring even those problems they share in common. Mar-
keters themselves are differentially affected by new government legisla-
tion, with the poore:;t women, as ambulantes, bearing the brunt of re-
pressive measures. As a consequence, the unity of marketers and their
potential allies is threatened.
Even so, my research in Huaraz and recent reports from Lima have
shown that marketers often recognize the government's actions as efforts
to.divide workers in petty commerce and, in general, to undermine the
solidarity of the working class and poor in Peru. Marketers in Huaraz,
Lima, and elsewhere in Peru have resisted these efforts, and many have
revealed a readiness to unite in a struggle against the further impover-
ishment of their lives.


1. This paper grows out of my doctoral dissertation (Babb 1981a), which
benefited from the enduring encouragement and criticisms of my committee
members William W. Stein and Elizabeth Kennedy. The research on which
the paper is based was funded by a Grant-in-Aid awarded to William W.
Stein by the Research Foundation of the State University of New York.
Some of the material in this paper was presented at the 1981 meeting of
the Northeastern Anthropological Association (Babb 1981b), where many
useful comments were offered. In writing the present paper, I am indebted
to Diane Hopkins anc Bruce Mannheim, and to Carol Barton and members of
Peru Solidarity, for generously providing me with materials on Peruvian
marketers. I remair responsible for the interpretations in this paper.
All translations from the Spanish are mine.
Elsewhere, I discuss in more detail the place of petty commerce within
the terms of Peruvian underdevelopment (Babb 1979), and the conceptuali-
zation of market women's class position, labor force participation, and
political consciousness (Babb 1980).

2. For a discussion of economic policy during this period, see Thorp and
Bertram (1978) and Fitzgerald (1979).

3. For reviews of recent developments in Peru, see Bollinger (1980),
Petras and Havens (1979), and articles in the Latin American Working
Group Newsletter (1980).

4. Here, the word "independent" is used to distinguish these retailers
from the one percent of workers employed by larger'self-service retail
establishments in Peru. See, however, Scott (1979) for a discussion of
the subordination of "self-employed" workers to larger firms in Lima. I
discuss the issue of disguised wage labor among marketers in Huaraz (Babb

5. My work has been informed by the writings of several researchers on
similar situations in other third world cities where government policy
has tightened control over the pricing and distribution of goods. Bromley
(1978) has examined the case of street sellers in Cali, Colombia, where
official regulation contains and represses petty trade, and Gerry (1978)
describes the-situation of petty producer-sellers in Dakar, Senegal where
government intervention has benefited only a few and the majority have
undergone worsening conditions. Jellinek (1977) offers an account of a
Jakarta street trader who must constantly evade government "trader clear-
ing campaigns." And Oliver-Smith (1974), whose fieldwork was carried out
in the Peruvian town of Yungay, not far from Huaraz, points to the impor-
tance of official regulation of marketers through fee collection and fines,
as a means to generate public revenues.

References Cited

Babb, Florence E.

1979 Market women and Peruvian underdevelopment. Paper presented
in the panel Markets, Marketing, and Marketers, Annual Meeting
of the American Anthropological Association, Cincinnati, Ohio.

1980 Women in the service sector: petty commerce in Peru. Paper
presented in the panel Women, Work and Inequality: New Theore-
tical Insights, Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological
Association, Washington, D.C.

1981a Women and Marketing in Huaraz, Peru: The Political Economy of
Petty Commerce. Ph.D. dissertation, State University of New
York at Buffalo. An Arbor: University Microfilms.

S1981b The threat to marketers: national policy and local response
in the Andes. Paper presented in the panel The Anthropology
of Work, Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Anthropological
Association, Saratoga Springs, New York.

Bollinger, William

1980 Peru today--the roots of labor militancy, North American Con-
gress on the Americas (NACLA) Report 14(6):2-35.


Bourque, Susan C. and Kay Barbara Warren

1981 Rural women and development planning in Peru, in Women and
World Change. Edited by Naomi Black and Ann Baker Cottrell.
Beverly Hills: Sage.

Bromley, Ray

1978 Organization, regulation and exploitation in the so-called
'urban informal sector': the street traders of Cali, Colombia,
World Development 6(9-10):1161-1171.

Esculies Larrabure, Oscar, Marcial Rubio Correa, and Veronica Gonzalez del

1977 Comercializacion de Alimentos: Quienes Ganan, Quienes Pagan,
Quienes Pierden.- Lima: Centro de Estudios y Promoci6n del
Desarrollo (DESCO).

Fitzgerald, E. V. K.

1976 The State and Economic Development: Peru Since 1968. Cam-
bridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

1979 -The Political Economy of Peru 1956-78: Economic Development
and the Restructuring of Capital. New York: Cambridge Univer-
Sity Press.

Gerry, Chris

1978 Petty production and capitalist production in Dakar: the
crisis of the self-employed, World Development 6(9-10):1147-

Grompone, Romeo

1981 Comercio ambulante: razones de una terca presencia, Quehacer.
Lima: DESCO.

Jellinek, Lea

1977 The life of a Jakarta street trader, in Third World Urbaniza-
tion. Edited by Richard Hay, Jr. and Janet Abu-Lughod. Chica-
go: Maaroufa Press, Inc.

Latin American Working Group (LAWG)

1980 Peru: Economic Crisis and Daily Bread. Toronto: LAWG (Vol.
VI, No. 6).


Oliver-Smith, Anthony R.

1974 Yungay Norte: Disaster and Social Change in the Peruvian
Highlands. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University. Ann
Arbor: University Microfilms.

Petras, James and A. Eugene Havens

1979 Peru: economic crises and class confrontation, Monthly Re-
view 30(9):25-41.

Scott, Alison MacEwen

1979 Who are the self-employed? in Casual Work and Poverty in
Third World Cities. Edited by Ray Bromley and Chris Gerry.
New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Strasma, John

1976 Agrarian reform, in Peruvian Nationalism, A Corporatist
Revolution. Edited by David Chaplin. New Brunswick, New
Jersey: Transaction Books.

Thorp, Rosemary and Geoffrey Bertram

1978 Peru 1890-1977: Growth and Policy in an Open Economy. New
York: Columbia University Press.

Newspapers and periodicals:

Caretas. Lima.
El Comercio. Lima.
El Departamento. Huaraz.
Expreso. Lima.
Marka. Lima.
New York Times. New York.
Peru Update. New York.
La Prensa. Lima.