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By Urban Social Movements
Most of the States of our continent have signed agreements and treaties through which they have committed not only to satisfy the need for housing and infrastructure for their inhabitants, but to fulfill and enforce the Right to Housing, considered as a Human Right Fundamental for all the inhabitants of the planet.
Open letter from urban social movements to the Ministers of Housing and Urban Planning of Latin America and the Caribbean XV General Assembly of Minurvi, Montevideo, October 4-6, 2006.
Most of the States of our continent have signed agreements and treaties through which they have committed not only to satisfy the need for housing and infrastructure for their inhabitants, but to fulfill and enforce the Right to Housing, considered as a Human Right Fundamental for all the inhabitants of the planet. Such commitments have been reiterated at many summits and events, even in the most recent ones, as is the case in June of this year, when the 30th World Habitat Summit, held in Vancouver, Canada, was completed, as well as 10 years of Habitat II, carried out in Istanbul Turkey. Another has been the Declaration of the Millennium Goals where it is established to create safe accommodation for some 100 million people living on the street, which according to studies, instead of being fulfilled, threatens to grow to 700 million by 2020.
In other words, despite all these international commitments, since then to date a lot of water has flowed under the bridges of the Right to Housing. Let us see in the light of the facts that these objectives have not been met: the States' abandonment of popular housing policies in favor of the real estate and financial sectors, the persistence of forced evictions in many countries, which are sometimes carried out immediately. directly by the governments themselves or in complicity with real estate sectors, cases constantly reported in several countries (for example, the Dominican Republic); increased housing insecurity, unsustainable housing costs, deterioration in the quality of urban life.
The social movements of the continent have a reading on the causes that produce this insecurity for human life in our countries, and we would like to share them with you, today that some governments of our continent take positions in favor of contributing to solve situations such as those mentioned. Let's see:
• The policies implemented by the majority of the governments of the continent have been at the service of the misguided guidelines of international organizations (World Bank, IDB, IMF, FTAs) which give priority to the payment of the external debt, for whose service is it allocates on average in each of our countries slightly more than 25 percent of the national budgets, which prevents the national budgets from being an instrument at the service of the development of our peoples;
• Speculative investments in the urban sector, the construction of large infrastructures in the form of megaprojects such as the Puebla Panama Plan, for example, the aggression of tourism-property against nature (the sand, beach and cruise tourism model), financed mainly by foreign investments;
• internal and international migrations due to the destruction of indigenous peoples by agricultural monoculture and the industrial fishing sector;
• the abandonment of the social welfare state due to privatization and liberalization processes in the real estate sector, income and basic services;
• the geopolitical factors of different nature that are drawn in Latin America, such as internal wars (mainly Colombia and Mexico in Chiapas and now Oaxaca) and the economic blockade of Cuba, the presence of narcopolitics, among others.
The results of the so-called habitat policies of the governments of our continent have basically had the neoliberal model as their basic orientation, which have privatized the official land and housing market. Whose impacts clearly, our cities, show a reality that they run into, with an inexorable social, economic, racial and gender-exclusive barrier. The official housing programs have had the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as an essential interlocutor, whose loans have been directed to the middle and upper sectors, excluding the poor sectors of the city.
Those who have been forced to solve their housing problems based on their own self-management efforts, with self-construction being the practical experience of social production of the habitat. Configuring with it, the faces of the cities on the continent.
We sincerely tell you that if governments focus their fundamental attention on the inhabitants and not on continuing to deepen a social debt to which these international organizations have contributed to significantly increase, it is essential to critically review those policies implemented by the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean. .
Consequently, it is convenient to listen to the voice of those without voices, the humble inhabitants who demand everywhere the fulfillment of the commitments assumed in the aforementioned international events, among them the Millennium Goal n. 7-11, and regarding its own legislation in some cases, and creating them, in others, to guarantee a safe place where the inhabitants can live in peace and with dignity.
Faced with this pressing reality of poverty and exclusion derived from neoliberalism, the urban social movements of the Continent, we, the participants in the XV Assembly of Housing Ministers of the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, write to you in the following terms:
A Human Approach to the Right to Housing and Habitat:
• The implementation of new social housing and habitat policies, aimed at solving the pressing problems of access to decent housing, leaving aside the neoliberal orientations that privatize housing policies.
• As an account of the above, it is essential, first of all, to strengthen the regional and subregional integration processes, such as the South American Community of Nations, MERCOSUR, the Andean Community, CARICOM, as well as the non-signing of the FTAs that it promotes the Government of the United States, taking into account the serious consequences that it entails for the lives of our peoples.
• On this path, the Local, Regional and State Governments are called to play a fundamental role in the construction of conditions of social justice for our peoples. This requires overcoming the obstacles of centralism and control by national governments. Therefore, they must have true social participation and the necessary funds so that they can exercise their functions as true representatives of the citizenry in local spaces, particularly by promoting participatory budgets.
Aware of the importance of the XV Assembly of Housing Ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean, we demand from you. a responsible commitment to face the serious problem of housing and habitat, for which we propose the following Platform:
1. Unrestrictedly recognize the Human Right to Housing, established by art. 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Law, in accordance with General Comments n. 4 and 7; the art. 34 of the Charter of the Organization of American States ratified by all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the support for the taking of words of the inhabitants, the true makers of the cities, the exchanges of experiences and the partnership .
2. Approve the Charter of the Right to the City attached hereto
3. Declare a continental moratorium on evictions, through:
• the institutionalization of the “Eviction Free” territories;
• The blocking of national or foreign investments in infrastructure and speculative that cause evictions without dignified and concerted relocation;
• support of international cooperation to peace processes with justice in war territories.
4. Formulate and adopt neighborhood, municipal and metropolitan development plans in a participatory manner that guarantee access to urban land for all citizens.
5. Establish tables for land and housing agreement at the local, national and regional levels to:
• regularization and non-speculative titling of land tenure;
• the development of plans for public and cooperative social housing based on the principle of the house as a human right;
• the implementation of social housing policies;
• the constitution of Popular Funds for Land and Housing financed by the cancellation of foreign debt, which contribute to providing land and housing security to the inhabitants;
• Agreed and dignified resettlement, payment of compensation to mobilized communities, including those affected by disasters.
6. The blocking of the liberalization of the real estate sector, the privatization of natural water resources and public service companies.
We address each one of you and you together offering these reflections and proposals on which we are available to confront and to collaborate later.
We are confident in the opening of this dialogue and we await your responses, individual and collective, on which we will define our attitude and the initiatives that we will take in different countries and at the continental level.
AIH coordinator - INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF INHABITANTS
INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF INHABITANTS
c / o Unione Inquilini, via Bettella, 2 / ter - 35133 - Padova - Italy
tel. +39 049691771 fax ++ 39 02700415592 - www.habitants.org
• XV General Assembly of MINURVI (Montevideo, 4-6 October 2006) http://www.minurvi.org/
• Zero Evictions Campaign http://www.minurvi.org/
• Campaign to cancel the debt to house the poor http://es.habitants.org/article/archive/379/
• Charter of the Right to the City http://www.choike.org/nuevo/informes/2130.html
• Thirty years of Habitat I: enough with the neoliberal model of cities! http://es.habitants.org/article/frontpage/17/142