With the busy holiday season approaching for Los Cabos, authorities are intensifying their efforts to create a calm and stress-free beach environment for the huge number of American travelers that will soon arrive.
One of the biggest areas of concern still to be acceptably dealt with is the mammoth number of illegal street vendors, known locally as golondrinos (aka swallows), which have been known to create a less than relaxing environment for travelers and locals alike who only want to relax on one of Los Cabos many beautiful beaches.
A Necessary Crackdown
The presence of illegal beach vendors was tolerated by local authorities for a long time, but with the destination growing year-on-year, and showing no signs of slowing down, the number of golondrinos has also increased.
While on the surface, it may look like a harmless quirk to Los Cabos beaches, sometimes even bringing welcome comedic moments between vendors and travelers trying to negotiate in a mix of broken English and broken Spanish, there is a darker side to this practice.
For a long time, the sale of illicit narcotics was carried out under the camouflage of beach vendors, while this was a small minority of people taking part in this economy, it created a dynamic that couldn’t continue to be ignored.
On top of this, there has long been concern at the use of children to soften travelers up as a sales tactic, playing on the good nature of travelers who choose to visit Los Cabos for their vacation.
Regulation & Security
Beach vendors are a part of the cultural fabric and vibe on Los Cabos beaches, and the authorities don’t intend to remove them completely.
Instead, the goal is to create a safe, secure, and regulated atmosphere that ensures the practice only has a positive impact on locals and travelers.
Officers of the police, of both municipal and state levels, as well as members of the Guardia Nacional (national guard) and Marinas (Mexican Marines), carry out regular licensing checks on the beaches and act as a dynamic deterrent to any would-be illegal vendors.
How To Spot Licensed Vendors
While not a foolproof plan, the local authorities brought in a new initiative in the early months of 2023 that saw all licensed beach vendors begin wearing all-white clothing to stand out from illegal vendors.
The hole in that plan is an obvious one, as the dress code simply dictates a color to be worn, although most licensed vendors will also carry/display their license on their person if travelers require some confirmation.
So far, this initiative has proved effective in helping authorities quickly identify illegal vendors, as well as being an easy sign for travelers that the seller they’re interacting with may not be licensed.
An Informal Workscape
A side to the Mexican economy and culture that travelers should be aware of is that the nation currently has around 60% of the population working informally.
In other words, without having an official registered position with benefits, employment protections, or even enrolment in the tax system.
This has long been an accepted part of Mexico’s cultural landscape and is woven into the fabric of the nation. From small taco stands to beach vendors, the informal economy is the biggest contributor to Mexican citizens feeding their families and keeping a roof over their heads.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the authorities have chosen to support the legitimate beach vendors through licensing and protections.
At the same time, the annoyance of many at the new regulations and a refusal to get a license to do something that both they, their families, and potentially even their parents have done for many years is an equally understandable viewpoint.
But at the end of it all, the runaway growth of Los Cabos will only be successful, safe, and secure for all involved if careful work is done to protect the destination from the small minority of unsavory vendors.
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