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Women selling trinkets in Ixtapa

by ZihuaRob ⌂ @, Zihuatanejo, México, Sunday, March 24, 2019, 09:32 (179 days ago) @ mexicoman

I am stunned that anyone would suspect a scam regarding children and women selling trinkets to scratch out a living.
And you see that as a good question that needs to be clarified. What possible scam could anyone fear?

In 5 decades of living in tourist destinations I've found that visitors often have questions that may seem odd to some people who live or spend much time here. I don't fault visitors for their curiosity, but instead try to understand how they might have such ideas. In the question at hand, all the recent talk in the USA about human trafficking in Mexico may cause folks to wonder if some of our vendors may not also be victims of a type of indentured service. The answer is definitely yes, but it isn't the complete story nor is it necessarily something to denounce.

We have different customs here, and oftentimes people from poor communities in the sierra of Guerrero are "employed" to sell the wares of a "patrón" to whom they become indebted. if a well-meaning person denounces this arrangement the vendor can lose their source of wares, income and sometimes even their housing. No one wins. No justice is served.

The past is alive and well in Mexico, and in many cases things simply aren't what they appear to be. While I certainly don't condone slavery in any form, there are still customs and practices used by indigenous communities that to the outside world appear barbaric, but when outsiders get involved they only make things worse. These communities need to be allowed to resolve certain things for themselves. I may wish to seek social changes that affect their communities, such as an end to the practice of selling women and children in some communities or treating women as second class members of a community, but it is still necessary to respect cultural differences and work for change differently instead of making it a personal crusade that almost inevitably causes more harm than good, as we have seen here in Zihuatanejo with certain foreigners aiding the people we know as land invaders helping them to remain permanently on the lands that were our ecological zones on our hillsides above the 70 meter mark known as la Cota 70.

So yes, there may indeed be a scam occurring sending women and children out in tourist areas to sell "trinkets", but there is no viable alternative or social safety net in place to otherwise help these people. What looks like injustice to one person may appear to be an opportunity for the alleged victim. An outsider denouncing that injustice thinking they are helping may end up only causing greater hardship for the person seeking opportunity.

My wife and I have many friends in the local indigenous community. We help when and where we can, but we also try not to cross certain lines. Sometimes what seems simple and easy to our culture makes little sense to another. Birth control readily comes to mind as one example where ideas differ greatly between cultures. The role of women in society is another. Social mores change mostly in gradual steps, and sometimes trying to force change or to impose external beliefs upon a group can increase their suffering. Religion is an excellent example of this.

So maybe you didn't understand the question, or maybe I answered a question the original poster didn't ask, but to me the question was indeed a good one because people are indeed used in scams all the time.

I used to have to warn visitors about people who carried around drugged or drunken children, sometimes infants even, seeking handouts to fill a bogus prescription for medicine. My public warning infuriated some people (local gringos) because in their eyes I was harming our tourist image. They thought my website should be all about happy hours and tropical flowers and bang for the buck and absolutely nothing negative. They no longer live here. And I continue being just as honest with visitors now as I was 20 years ago.


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