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Artisans are unhappy with city’s Cemuart plans

The vendors of Centro Municipal Artesanal, or Cemuart, have rejected the city’s renovation plans for the popular arts mall on the west side of San Francisco Plaza.

Cemuart vendors have held several protests outside the municipal building on Parque Calderon in recent weeks. (El Tiempo)

“Like many other municipal projects, the plans were developed without proper consultation with the people who will be affected the most,” says Oswaldo Pintado, representative for the Cemuart vendors association. “We do not want what happened to San Francisco Plaza to happen to our space.”

According to Pintado, the current plan was radically changed by city planners and architectural consultants from the University of Cuenca after initial discussions with Cemuart vendors, many of whom make their own products. Among the changes that Pintado objects to are the relocation and reconfiguration of sales stalls and the addition of a third floor.

Cemuart vendor representative Oswaldo Pintado shows the city’s renovation plan.

“They showed us a design which we agreed with and now they want to build something different that could take years to finish,” Pintado says. “We want to them to continue with restoring the facade, replacing the roof and making the other repairs that they promised and nothing more. We are tired of being deceived by the so-called experts who do not listen to the working people.”

Artisan Adolfo Idrovo agrees and claims that city planners seem intent on creating more “white elephants” and wasting money. “Haven’t they learned anything from San Francisco Plaza and the tram?” he asks. According to Idrovo, the artisans and sellers have been forgotten in the planning process. “Casa de la Mujer [the popular name for the mall] should be a project for the artisans and the customers, not a monument to architects and the government.”

Director of Historical and Patrimonial Areas, Xavier Aguirre, says he is disappointed with the vendors’ reaction. “We wanted to provide the best space and conditions possible for the those who work in the facility but there apparently has been some communication problems between the various parties.”

He added that the renovations will not go forward without the approval of vendors.