the pueblo gets it done
two of my friends were in a store when they heard crazy commotion outside in the plaza. they ran out and folks were crowded around some cops holding onto a young kid with a bloody face. the cops were protecting him; trying to get him out of there while the mob was following, yelling, and grabbing for him. he had apparently just tried to snatch someone’s bag, and the pueblo was furious. they wanted street justice.
i was leaving one of the barrios on a bus a few weeks back and suddenly all the passengers started yelling at the driver to go; he put the bus in reverse, looked back, and hauled ass the eff out of there. i looked in front of us and saw a mob of young guys throwing rocks towards something and everyone else running towards us. i was full of riot adrenaline wanting to know what crazy shit must have popped off to create such a raucous. a lady on the bus told me maybe a car ran over a street dog or a motorcyclist or something. huh? that’s it? street justice. any time something goes down, todo el pueblo comes out to see and ensure shit happens right. and, of course, to gossip about it. they linger for hours afterwards. community. i love it.
it all makes perfect sense to me. at least, in the context of this country. if you’re used to protecting yourself, if you don’t trust cops or each other, then you just do it yourself. this includes commerce too. street food is the obvious example alive and well here and quickly appropriated by yuppies worldwide. pay phones here are people on the street sitting at tables with cell phones chained down and you pay for minutos to make phone calls. i’m not sure how profits are made but i adore it. when i want coffee, i walk around until i find someone with a coffee thermos and pay a quarter for a cup. same goes for juice, lemonade, ice cream, fruit, fish, live chickens, purebred dogs, batteries, cigarettes, photocopies, sunglasses, incense, remote controls, massages, belts, etc. street enterprise. the people do for themselves. there’s no regulation or permits or legal hoops at all. you just invest in some shit and walk around selling it. if you’re extra fancy, you might have a megaphone. or a burro.
coming from a bureaucratic framework my regulatory gut wonders what happens if something makes someone sick or if you buy some bunk shit that doesn’t work, but around here, you just take care of it yourself. you don’t run to daddy; you run to the people. i mean, the only downside is that the people are generally fucking crazy, but it’s not really like our system is all that much better. the gang and the government are no different, or so perry farrel taught me. generally, i’m all for the regulation of corporate entities, to the point of their undoing really, but these are just ordinary civilians. though maybe wal-mart started as a street cart too. this way of being inspires me to consider retail as a way to support myself, something that generally makes me want to throw up. but like, i could totally come up with something to sell. translation services? an advice booth ala lucy? plastic bottle crafts? poo water support group? someone’s bound to pay or trade for that.
it’s strange to revel in street commerce so much as it seems to be capitalism at its purest, and i hate capitalism. but maybe if i tag it as a community market, it’s actually anarchy at its best? money is still involved though… i don’t really know fuck all about anarchy. either way, it all feels very liberating. i can just come up with an idea that could fill a community need and simultaneously support me financially or otherwise. about a third of colombians i talk to tell me they like the states but would never move there. freedom is just talk there, they say. they like their more tactile, lawless freedom here. i gotta say, i dig the pueblo too.