This chapter moves from an analysis of elite debates over urban renewal to an examination of the quotidian transactions of the Baratillo in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The shadow economy linked baratilleros to some of Mexico’s elite overseas merchants while pitting them against the capital’s artisan guilds and shopkeepers, who saw them as disloyal competition. In reconstructing these relationships, the chapter reveals the centrality of the Baratillo’s commerce to the late-colonial urban economy. It also illustrates the ways that economics and politics intertwined in the market, as vendors pursued multiple strategies to protect their businesses from outside threats.
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