Within the new world scenario, for the last number a years of series of social, economic and political changes have begun to spread across the planet. “Modernization” has made its appearance, within the context of the parallel reorganization of capital and the State. The reorganization of capital is expressed, on the one hand, in “flexibilization”, which seeks to eliminate legal and labor union-based forms of protection, and, on the other hand, through the “de-regulation” of the market, which seeks to stimulate the circulation of goods and make it possible for private companies to fix prices and determine the quality of consumer goods. The reorganization of the State seeks to redistribute a series of functions and attributes towards non-governmental actors.
The policy of privatization has meant that the more profitable functions of the State are sold cheaply to largo national business interests, while non-profitable social policies are handed over to the municipalities, the Church, non-governmental organizations and inhabitants themselves. This is accompanied by the “slimming down of the State” which includes lay-offs as well as reductions in public spending for productive investments and social policy. Meanwhile, the State’s repressive apparatus, mechanisms for controlling the population and political patronage networks all remain intact. This reorganization of the State, by redistributing functions, supposes that social actors will be transformed to fulfill the new roles assigned to them. This is particularly true in the case of municipal governments, NGOs and popular organizations.
In order to provide this sort of attention to the problems of urban popular sectors and their settlements, integral and coordinated institutional action is necessary, action, which is consistent and long-term. Only through a series of planned and broadly negotiated actions involving public and private institutions, NGOs and popular organizations, can the challenges of helping these settlements to provide a decent life be met.