Mariachis. A flame-swallower. Mexico's disputes between street performers just reached a new high

In this image taken from video provided by Jorge Toscano, a flame-swallower, right, and a group of guitar-toting mariachis fight, Sunday, May 19, 2024 in Morelia, Mexico. (Jorge Toscano via AP)

MORELIA, Mexico (AP) — Mexico’s often violent disputes between street performers reached a new level this week when a group of guitar-toting mariachis attacked a flame-swallower.

What happened next was, perhaps, predictable.

According to security camera footage obtained by The Associated Press, the mariachis in their white jackets at first seemed to be winning, punching the flame-swallower to the ground and kicking him on the sidewalk in front of a taco restaurant named Hell.

The video then shows the mariachis — some with clothing in flames — running away. The flame-swallower had doused them with flammable liquid from a small can and set them alight. The mariachis quickly shed their clothes or extinguished the flames. None returned to the fight.

Because competition for tips in Mexico is so fierce, performers and windshield washers often stake out and defend lucrative street corners. Street vendor groups in Mexico City often square off with cudgels and sometimes guns over territory.

It is not clear how Sunday's dispute began in the city of Morelia west of the capital. Police said in a statement that nobody was arrested and only the flame-swallower had to be treated at a hospital.

Police said he told them he had argued with the mariachis, who then attacked him.