Located in the heart of Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, the Mercado Oriental, which sells everything from toys to bridal gowns is where thousands daily earn their living and a measure of the country’s economic pulse.
But sales are now flat, few customers dare come to the market, many vendor stalls are empty for fear of possible lootings.
Nicaragua is currently in a socio-political crisis. More than 135 deaths have occurred since April when protesters took to the streets to demand change.
Despite the bloodshed and demands by anti-government groups that President Daniel Ortega step down and democracy is returned to the country, the situation has gotten worse in the country and at the market, which spreads out on roughly 85 hectares (209 acres).
Vendors are selling only the inventory they have in stock to protest Ortega’s administration, refusing new product.
But the action by the vendors is not strictly political, deliveries to the market are being impeded by the more 70 ‘tranques’ (barricades) across the country, centered on Managua and Masaya, which is quickly bringing commerce to a halt.
Thousands of Trucks, big and small, are sitting idle. Distributors are barely shipping anything out of their warehouses. Imports are minimal from outside markets like Honduras and Costa Rica and Central America.
“The situation here in the market is quite critical. There aren’t shoppers, we’re not selling. More than anything we come to watch over the stalls, so that there won’t be looting,” Fausto Aguilar Espinosa, a clothing stand vendor who has worked there for 23 years, told AFP.
The report adds that some sellers have consolidated what few goods they have left with colleagues at other stands — or shuttered their metal roll-down gates completely.
But Gutierrez vows to cling to his business: “We will continue here, always. I believe in God that the future will get better, and that all of this will end; that the economy will return to normal. We pay debt from here, it’s from here that I feed my mother and my child,” he said, motioning to his destitute stall.