Our vendors: Salomón Martínez (Mi Valedor, Mexico City, Mexico)

By Delphine Tomes, Mi Valedor

When I was younger, I always had my parents’ support. My dad gave us everything that we needed, he always treated us like we were someone. I have been a street vendor since I was 14 years old. I would sell albums: boleros, salsa, The Beatles, Los Panchos…

I visited Veracruz, Aguascalientes and the San Marcos Fair. I saw life as something utterly great, as something that moved. I was an ambitious person.

At 18 years old, I was hanging out with people older than me in the alleys of Tenochtitlan. I didn’t think that studying or learning a trade were very important. I ended up on the streets because of bad habits – above all alcohol – and I distanced myself from my family.

At 23 years old, I was involved in a robbery and ended up in jail. I lost my girlfriend, whom I had married. When I left prison, I got into a cycle:  I’d get out, go back in, get out, go back in…

I spent years drifting about the streets, I say drifting because I couldn’t ever get settled after I lost my girlfriend. I went “scavenging”, collecting whatever I could find as a way to make money. Unfortunately, I kept sinking in my bad habits. Since 2012 until now I have felt like a misfit in society. I feel I stand out because of my tattoos: marked and branded internationally.

Through Mi Valedor, I feel what it is to be a normal person. My self-confidence is returning. The vest and the nametag let people identify me with the rest. I’m trying to carry this all out in an intellectual way. At times I find it difficult to sell the magazine but I go on getting to know new streets, people and things in the city.

I want to grow within the magazine; they gave me the opportunity without any documentation. I’ve spent many years without a stable job. I don’t steal but I’ve been accused because of my street appearance. This really frustrates me…

In the future, I would like to return to Yautepec, Morelos. I would like to be in my own house, sweeping and everything: I’d like to be a family man, a man of the house. I sometimes dream about that.

Translated from Spanish to English by Gary McCrossan