Mariachi Plaza roiled by price war

mariachi-nyt-almeida.jpgIt seems that newcomers are negotiating lower prices while the older mariachis are trying to maintain the traditional $50 hourly rate. About 200 of the price-fixers belong to United Mariachi Organization of Los Angeles. Tensions are evident, says a story in today's New York Times.

While the murals have faded and begun to peel, a new subway station at the plaza has revived the area, which now features a farmers market on Friday afternoons. Many of the mariachis worry about being pushed out of the square as the area has begun to gentrify with hip coffeehouses and wine bars. But for now, the shops selling the traditional instruments and outfits are still doing brisk business.

“This is ours, and we have to keep it ours, not let others tell us what to do,” said Martin Gonzales, who has been in the plaza for more than 20 years.

For now, Mr. Gonzales is ambivalent about the new organization. He wants to keep prices fair, but he is distrustful of new rules that do not promise to give him all that much in return.

“Do we need this?” he asked. “I don’t know. What we really need is more work.”

That "subway" station is the light rail Gold Line, which is partly underground in Boyle Heights.

New York Times photo: Monica Almeida

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