Street Peddlers and Flea Markets
Street peddlers have a long history and are found throughout the world. In Mexico, street peddlers constitute the majority of persons employed in what is called the informal economy. Even though the peddlers in the informal economy sell counterfeit merchandise and contraband, the Mexican authorities are often reluctant to prosecute. After the crash of the peso, millions of people lost their jobs and joined the informal economy as street peddlers.
"Judges in Mexico and other countries have other priorities besides sentencing street peddlers," reports David Shaw, an attorney based in Mexico City. "At least the defendant is not stealing in the eyes of the judge. He's trying to feed his family. Additionally, limited prison space is often a factor in releasing the peddlers with a small fine."
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, many people in Russia joined the informal economy as street peddlers. Books were in great demand. With the collapse of the Soviet system, people were free to read what they wanted; unfortunately, there was no legitimate book industry. In 1993, Carol Risher of the AAP traveled to Moscow to promote the book publishing industry in Russia. She found the book industry in chaos. No books were for sale in the legitimate market. Visiting a bookstore, Risher discovered that the only books available were in glass shelves, like artifacts in a museum. Books were available only in the informal channel, which had replaced the legitimate industry. In the subways, peddlers set up blankets and stacked up books for sale. The purchaser often had no idea of what he was buying, since the books were