Dejar de trabajar y encerrarse en casa durante el estado de excepción por Coronavirus es un lujo que quienes trabajan en el sector informal de El Salvador difícilmente pueden darse. No hablamos de poca gente. Según un estudio que Fusades presentó en octubre de 2018, se trata de siete de cada diez salvadoreños. Gente que no tiene Seguro Social ni pensión y, salvo excepciones como algunas empleadas domésticas, tampoco un pago fijo. Los vendedores informales son ícono de este desafortunado sector de la economía nacional, y los vendedores del Centro Histórico son los más célebres de entre ellos. No son pocos. Al menos hasta 2015, la Alcaldía capitalina calculaba que son más de 8,600 en puestos en las calles del Centro, y unos 10,000 ambulantes: carretoneros y buhoneros (que andan la venta en la mano). Toda esa gente no se puede dar el lujo de encerrarse. Si venden, comen; si no, no. Así lo dicen algunos de ellos. "¿Se imagina si no salimos a vender lo que va a pasar con nosotros? Nos van a dejar morir", dice una anciana que vende medicamentos. "Si no me dejan venir al trabajo, yo voy a hacer desvergue", dice un lustrador de zapatos. "La gente de dinero compra cosas para guardarlas, nosotros ni el supermercado conocemos", dice una vendedora de ropa interior. De momento, el Gobierno no ha prohibido la actividad comercial en las calles, pero la sola idea de que esta crisis llegue a ese punto pone en jaque a estos trabajadores. 

El 15 de marzo, el presidente Nayib Bukele ordenó a las empresas enviar a sus casas a las personas mayores de 60 años, esto debido a que son los más vulnerables ante una inminente infección por el COVID-19. Ese domingo, el presidente dijo que los mayores deben salir para cosas "estrictamente necesarias". En las cuadras remozadas del Centro lo estrictamente necesario para muchos ancianos es pasar todo el día en la calle intentando vender algo. La vida no es normal en el Centro. Hay menos afluencia de gente, aunque siguen siendo multitudes en las horas pico, y a partir del martes 17 las principales plazas amanecieron cerradas con cinta amarilla para evitar aglomeraciones. Sin embargo, los vendedores de ropa, sorbetes, hamacas, panes, café, baratijas no se detienen. Siguen pateando calle, buscando sobrevivir al hambre en tiempos de Coronavirus. 

 

Delmy Cornejo tiene 43 años, vive en la colonia San Antonio de Soyapango y se dedica a la venta ambulante de ropa interior. En un día bueno puede ganar .
 
Delmy Cornejo tiene 43 años, vive en la colonia San Antonio de Soyapango y se dedica a la venta ambulante de ropa interior. En un día bueno puede ganar . "De aquí nos van a tener que sacar a la fuerza, de aquí uno come lo del día, la gente de dinero compra cosas para guardarlas, nosotros ni el supermercado conocemos", dijo.

 

 

 

Luis Alcántara tiene 67 años de edad. Es un canillita, se dedica a la venta de periódicos en el Centro Histórico. A diario le queda una ganancia de que le alcanza justo para conseguir algo de comer. ''Yo tengo un padecimiento de bronquitis, pero me toca salir porque si no es así no se cómo haría para comer y no quiero pedir en las calles, prefiero trabajar'', dijo.
 
Luis Alcántara tiene 67 años de edad. Es un canillita, se dedica a la venta de periódicos en el Centro Histórico. A diario le queda una ganancia de que le alcanza justo para conseguir algo de comer. ''Yo tengo un padecimiento de bronquitis, pero me toca salir porque si no es así no se cómo haría para comer y no quiero pedir en las calles, prefiero trabajar'', dijo.

 

 

 

María Mejía, 64, lives in Amatepec, Soyapango. Her only source of income is selling panes mata niños, popular street breads topped with cabbage, mortadella, and salsa. “I sell $20 of product per day, and take home about $5 after overhead costs,” she said. “It’s complicated with the coronavirus, but if I stay home, I’ll starve.”
 
María Mejía, 64, lives in Amatepec, Soyapango. Her only source of income is selling panes mata niños, popular street breads topped with cabbage, mortadella, and salsa. “I sell $20 of product per day, and take home about $5 after overhead costs,” she said. “It’s complicated with the coronavirus, but if I stay home, I’ll starve.”

 

 

Eliézer Cabrera, 24, has sold sorbet for two years. He and his partner, 23, have a four-year-old daughter. The $25 he earns every day is enough for them to get by. “If I can’t sell, I can’t feed my daughter, and I won’t let that happen,” he said. “Staying home would be the end of me.”
 
Eliézer Cabrera, 24, has sold sorbet for two years. He and his partner, 23, have a four-year-old daughter. The $25 he earns every day is enough for them to get by. “If I can’t sell, I can’t feed my daughter, and I won’t let that happen,” he said. “Staying home would be the end of me.”

 

 

 

Esperanza Pérez, 83, lives in Apopa and sells combs in downtown San Salvador. A longtime traveling saleswoman of all kinds of merchandise, she’s had to reduce her load with age. “Maybe the emergency measures will save a few people, especially among those with fixed jobs and a good salary,” she said. “But for the old and poor, the only option is to take to the streets to pay for that day’s meal.”
 
Esperanza Pérez, 83, lives in Apopa and sells combs in downtown San Salvador. A longtime traveling saleswoman of all kinds of merchandise, she’s had to reduce her load with age. “Maybe the emergency measures will save a few people, especially among those with fixed jobs and a good salary,” she said. “But for the old and poor, the only option is to take to the streets to pay for that day’s meal.”

 

 

 

Tatiana Crespín, 24, travels from her home in San Bartolo, Ilopango to sell lingerie at Gerardo Barrios Plaza in San Salvador. It’s a family business, paying for the lives of her parents, too. “My parents are over 60,” she explained. “I go out to sell and they wait for me. I worry about their health, but also about how to put food on the table. I don’t know what I’ll do if I stop selling one day and can’t help my parents.”
 
Tatiana Crespín, 24, travels from her home in San Bartolo, Ilopango to sell lingerie at Gerardo Barrios Plaza in San Salvador. It’s a family business, paying for the lives of her parents, too. “My parents are over 60,” she explained. “I go out to sell and they wait for me. I worry about their health, but also about how to put food on the table. I don’t know what I’ll do if I stop selling one day and can’t help my parents.”

 

 

 

Blanca Flamenco, 73, lives in Mariona and sells sewing supplies throughout downtown San Salvador. She makes about $5 every day, covering her basic needs. “I won’t stay home. I live alone because my children are dead and nobody can take care of me,” she said. “Let the people with money stay home. When you’re poor, you have to go to work.”
 
Blanca Flamenco, 73, lives in Mariona and sells sewing supplies throughout downtown San Salvador. She makes about $5 every day, covering her basic needs. “I won’t stay home. I live alone because my children are dead and nobody can take care of me,” she said. “Let the people with money stay home. When you’re poor, you have to go to work.”

 

 

 

Eduardo Tunakalet, 50, travels between his home in Sensuntepeque and different neighborhoods of San Salvador selling hammocks and mats. His sales support his wife and two children. “Staying home leaves me and my family without sustenance. I’ll be careful, but I will always go out to sell,” he stated.
 
Eduardo Tunakalet, 50, travels between his home in Sensuntepeque and different neighborhoods of San Salvador selling hammocks and mats. His sales support his wife and two children. “Staying home leaves me and my family without sustenance. I’ll be careful, but I will always go out to sell,” he stated.

 

 

Marta Mejía, 64, lives in Apopa and sells medicine on foot. “I haven’t sold anything here today. You roll the dice on a meal every day,” she said. “Can you imagine what would happen to us if we didn’t go out and sell? They would let us die, because we have no other source of income.”
 
Marta Mejía, 64, lives in Apopa and sells medicine on foot. “I haven’t sold anything here today. You roll the dice on a meal every day,” she said. “Can you imagine what would happen to us if we didn’t go out and sell? They would let us die, because we have no other source of income.”

 

 

José Alas, 57, sells candy and cigarettes downtown. He almost always makes $5 per day, $3 of which go to paying for housing. “If I don’t leave home, I can’t work to pay my rent—even worse, I won’t eat. Necessity makes you work,” he said.
 
José Alas, 57, sells candy and cigarettes downtown. He almost always makes $5 per day, $3 of which go to paying for housing. “If I don’t leave home, I can’t work to pay my rent—even worse, I won’t eat. Necessity makes you work,” he said.

 

 

Javier Jímenez, 50, is a shoe shiner in Plaza Libertad. On a good day, he makes $10; on a bad day, $5. “If they keep me from working, I’ll raise hell,” he said defiantly. “Nobody will get in my way. In these parts, when people start going hungry, they rise up.”
 
Javier Jímenez, 50, is a shoe shiner in Plaza Libertad. On a good day, he makes $10; on a bad day, $5. “If they keep me from working, I’ll raise hell,” he said defiantly. “Nobody will get in my way. In these parts, when people start going hungry, they rise up.”