Tuesday, July 5

The Government closes the informal economy of the Padrón pepper at the foot of the road

The custom is not always adapted to the current legislation. Nor vice versa. The sellers of peppers from Padrón – from Herbón according to the official terminology – who offered their product on the shoulders of the Nacional 550 are verifying it on their own meat. The highway law, approved in 2015, prevents its activity for “not being a public service of general interest”. If so far they had done it without problems, it is because no one had asked. But the request for permission from one of them to install a wagon caused the administrations to act.

One of the usual ones on the section of the N-550 that goes from Padrón to the link with the O Barbanza expressway was the one that unleashed the current situation. He went to the town council to request authorization to occupy the road. I wanted to install a “carricoche”, explains Councilor Javier Guillán (PP), responsible for Markets. That is, expand the business. The usual thing is that women show their product on a stool, use another to sit on and an umbrella. The City Council sent the request, including a location map, to the Ministry of Transport and Mobility, on which the roads and public land owned by the state depend.

The response of the Ministry did not take long. And it was negative. In it they referred, says Guillán, to article 46.2 of Law 37/2015, which refers to urban crossings and the limits of the Ministry’s competence. Sources of this clarify to elDiario.es that another section of the norm also bases its position, 29.4: “Works, installations or other uses may only be carried out in the public domain area when the provision of a public service of general interest so demand […] or when it is duly justified that there is no other technically or economically viable alternative. “The itinerant sale of Padrón peppers does not fit either in the general interest or in the absence of alternatives, they point out.

Those affected prefer not to speak. There are four who usually work in the place. Councilor Javier Guillán assures that he has proposed other locations for them to place their peppers for sale, but for the moment they have not accepted. One of them is in the vicinity of the food market. They do not want, because they say that the cars do not see them, affirms the mayor. It is precisely Guillán who has been in charge of formalizing what until now had been informal commerce. “It was a habit, and nobody had ever looked at it. Or they looked the other way,” he says.

The Padrón pepper is a variety of chili that arrived from America in the 16th century. It was the missionaries from the Franciscan convent of Herbón who introduced them to Galicia. Their exposure to the sun, they say, depends on whether they bite or not. Rare is the restaurant establishment in the community that does not include them in its menu. The Herbón parish gives its name to the denomination of origin that legally protects the popular vegetable. Its president, Milagros González, chooses not to comment on the controversy of the road vendors. “I don’t want trouble,” he says. Sources from the regulatory council go into more detail: “No member of the appellation of origin sells on the road. There the product is not bagged or back-labeled.”

The Padrón City Council shares this concern for regulation. “We cannot look the other way. There cannot be unfair competition. This is not the old thing. If it is worse or better, I do not know, but it must be the same for everyone,” he considers. For this, he understands that those people who trade with peppers must register as itinerant and self-employed vendors, in addition to obtaining the food handler’s card. And that not in that section of the N-550 but in the Santuario da Escravitude or in the vicinity of the food market it will be legally allowed to sell Padrón peppers.