Barcelona launches campaign against illegal street selling
Aimed above all at tourists, 'Buy legal' is a new council initiative in the same week it began cracking down on 'top manta' vendors
'Buy legal' (Compra legal) is the name of a new campaign that the Barcelona city council launched on Friday to promote local retail and to try and dissuade, especially foreign visitors, from buying from non-authorized street sellers.
Deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni, called the campaign "positive," saying it aims to convince the public that buying legal products "contributes to a cohesive city model," although it also comes with fines for making illegal purchases of up to 500 euros.
The campaign will be in Catalan, Spanish, French and English, and will be promoted on social media, as well as on posters in shops, hotels, bus shelters, and on public address systems and screens on the Metro underground system.
The initiative comes the same week as the local authority began a "permanent" campaign against illegal street vendors, known popularly as 'top manta' sellers, which involves a hundred police officers patrolling key areas of the city every day.
Part of the council's Coexistence Campaign 2019, the initiative will go on until the end of September, and will also involve distributing some 28,000 postcards in stores in the city's main shopping areas with a message thanking customers.
Barcelona faces a "crisis of insecurity"
Collboni also linked the campaign to the efforts to make Barcelona safer, saying the city is facing a "crisis of insecurity." "We cannot allow illegal activities to monopolize the public space and put social harmony at risk," he added.
"We cannot allow illegal activities to monopolize the public space and put social harmony at risk"
Jaume Collboni · Barcelona deputy mayor
At the same time, the deputy mayor said the local authority was open to talks with the 'top manta' sellers, who have called a demonstration for Friday evening to demand the authorities allow them to sell their wares for a few hours every day.
Yet, Collboni insisted that the content of any talks with the sellers would have to be within "the legal framework of the city of Barcelona," although he did not shut the door to the possibility of "modifying municipal regulations."
The 'top manta' sellers, named after the Catalan word for blanket (manta) in reference to the coverings they place on the ground to display their wares that can be quickly collected when the police appear, argue that street selling is their only way to make a living.
Earlier in the week, a spokesman for the vendors said the council had broken its promises, claiming that before the May local election the candidates for council positions pledged to do "everything possible to resolve the issue positively with social projects."
Collboni addressed the social side to the issue, which he said "we are very aware of," and said that in the next few months the council would make efforts to introduce social measures for "those people who find themselves in the sphere of illegal selling."