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From: "Dana Aldea" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: Universal,Artisans in Ciudadela will fight eviction,May 18
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 13:38:45 +0200

Artisans in Ciudadela will fight eviction

Mexico City's famed and funky Ciudadela artisans market may soon be shut
down to make room for a modern shopping plaza

By Kelly Arthur Garrett/The Herald Mexico
El Universal
Viernes 18 de mayo de 2007

Mexico City's famed and funky Ciudadela artisans market may soon be shut
down to make room for a modern shopping plaza.
The colorful maze of 355 stalls and workshops, with handcrafted artifacts
ranging from silver trinkets and creative ceramics to regional clothing and
Michoaca'n- style guitars, is the principal source of income for more than
20,000 artisans and their employees.

The sprawling market has drawn tourists from across the globe since its
inauguration in 1966. Veteran shop owners estimate that between 60 percent
and 70 percent of Ciudadela customers are foreigners.

But the beloved market may end up the victim of its own advantages.

It sits on 16,000 square meters of prime real estate on Balderas Avenue just
south of Paseo de la Reforma, a once-vibrant section of the city that has
declined since the 1985 earthquake.

Mexico City's government has been eyeing the property as a potential
keystone for a major redevelopment project in the area, roughly between the
Hidalgo and Balderas Metro stations.

At the same time, the Ciudadela's formerly hands-off landlord, the Chamber
of Deputies, now wants to cash in the valuable property by trading it to the
Senate for a much-coveted, Senate-owned building inside the Legislative
Palace of San La'zaro.

The Senate, in turn, plans on selling the Ciudadela property to a developer
and using the profit to help finance a new 1.5 billion-peso Senate
headquarters to be built on Paseo de la Reforma near Insurgentes Avenue.

That building will replace the stately but too-small century-old Senate
headquarters on Xicote'ncatl Street next to the National Art Museum between
Donceles and Tacuba. The old building will probably become a museum.

Carlos Navarrete, coordinator of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD)
faction in the Senate, revealed the scheme in March after a closed-door
meeting between senators from all parties and Mexico City Mayor Marcelo

"We're going to put it up for sale under conditions that a modern
development will be built there that will rescue the Ciudadela area within
the framework projected by the city government," Sen. Navarrete said then.

Statements like that have the Ciudadela artisans worried and frustrated.

"They talk about this place as though it were an empty lot," said Jose'
Antonio Mene'ndez, president of the association that represents the artisans
that work and sell at the Ciudadela.

Mene'ndez and concerned artisans say they have tried to initiate contact with
the city government and the federal legislature, but to no avail. Their
efforts to seek a solution, they say, have been hampered by the inconvenient
fact that they've never been officially notified of any planned changes in
the Ciudadela's status.

"As of now, nobody has said a single word to us," Mene'ndez said. "Everything
we know we get from the newspapers."

The Ciudadela artisans seem to be placing their hopes for survival on
convincing the legislators and the city government that the market's
cultural and economic importance should be given more consideration. They
say they'll continue to urge officials to take a tour of the market.

In the meantime, they're soliciting support from Ciudadela lovers from
around the world, asking them to send e-mails to [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Artisan representatives have already circulated to the media letters of
support from Colombia, Argentina, Canada, Australia and France, among other

Mene'ndez is worried that once the authorities decide to move, they will move
too quickly to be stopped. "They could come in at any moment with an
evacuation order," he said.

He also questioned the assumption that improvement of the area depends on
replacing an historic arts and craft site with a shopping plaza.

"There are lots of malls," he said. "But there is only one Ciudadela."

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