Letter from the President to HIC members


Dear HIC colleagues: I am writing here to all our HIC members and friends to inform you of the recent activities in which I have participated as HIC President and the general activities I have been carrying out since October 2003 in follow-up to HIC Board agreements and to the work plan I proposed following my election one year ago. 1.- Recent activities: 1.1. Organization of upcoming HIC annual meetings in Barcelona The HIC General Secretariat in Chile has initiated the organization of our next annual meetings to take place in Barcelona, Spain, between 8-17 September 2004, in conjunction with the 2004Barcelona Forum and the World Urban Forum. While in Barcelona this past January (see 1,2) we were able to confirm initial supports and commitments related to our planned meetings. Subsequent trips by myself in March and by Ana Sugranyes in May allowed us to confirm additional preparations. As requested by some of our Board members and coordinators of the HIC-InWent project on Social Production of Habitat, I am supporting Ana in the preparation of public activities we will be holding within both of the mentioned Forums as well as within parallel spaces: i.- Preparation of a dossier containing between 30 and 40 cases documented through the working group on social production of habitat and the HIC-InWent project in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. This dossier, currently being prepared, will be published in Spanish and English by the 2004 Barcelona Forum, to be distributed during the dialogues. ii.- Organization of the dialogues “from marginality to citizenship” On the afternoons of 13, 14 and 15 September, between 6 and 8 presentations of cases selected from the dossier will be organized within the World Urban Forum. The presentations will be made by teams made up by one inhabitant, one advisory organization representative, and when possible a local authority representative. The organizers have asked us to select the cases to be presented, which I will do in consultation with the regional coordinators of the SPH international project. iii.- Exhibit In coordination with an international group of young architects based in Barcelona, we will be setting up an exhibit of organized social production and management processes taking place in our cities. The exhibit will be linked around the contents of the World Charter for the Right to the City, and will present photos, videos and objects to illustrate the social and urban processes that transform marginalized inhabitants into full citizens, and precarious settlements into cities. The exhibit will be open between 13 and 17 September. iv. Parallel dialogues In coordination with social organizations, academics, and individuals who for diverse reasons questioned the 2004 Barcelona Forum, we are organizing some events to take place outside of the official forums. One will be with inhabitants and social organizations (possibly to take place in the “Mina” neighborhood near the Forum). Another will address the Charter for the Right to the City, and another will entail a debate to be held within a university space on lessons learned from the cases collected in the dossier. v.- Presentation of the World Charter for the Right to the City in the World Urban Forum. In coordination with the Brazilian Forum on Urban Reform and with support from the Habitat Program office in Rio de Janeiro and from Jordi Borja, we are negotiating a space with the World Urban Forum to present the contents of the Charter. We have been fortunate to have the support of Jordi Borja and his collaborators, Architects without Borders, Pedro Lorenzo of CYTED, Esteban de Manuel Jerez the Architects and Social Commitment (Sevilla), Julian Salar (Madrid), Carmelo García from IEPALA, the IALA Collective, and members of a few social organizations to negotiate and confirm the contents of all of these activities and the required local support. We hope that all of these collective efforts combined with the participation of more and more HIC members will allow us to enjoy significant public presence and most effectively disseminate the proposals and concrete results of our work and of the struggle of people throughout the planet for a dignified and safe place in which to live. 1.2.- HIC-In-Went International Project on Social Production of Habitat In January 2004 a planning meeting for this project was held in Barcelona following regional meetings in Francophone Africa, Asia and Latin America to collect the different regional visions and proposals. HIC-LA coordinated this project up to the January meeting, at which time responsibility was handed over to the HIC Secretariat in Chile. Since then, the HIC-LA office has coordinated only the Latin American component of the project. Also active in this project are the following regions: Asia coordinated by Bimbo Fernández, Francophone Africa coordinated by Khadi Diagne, and Northern Africa and the Middle East (MENA) with support from Joseph Schechla. We also have interested contacts in South Africa. Despite lack of financial support from the project for the region, the project also benefits from European collaborations from Germany, France and Spain. 2.- Follow-up to HIC reorganization process 2.1.- Completion of transition period The installation and inauguration of activities of the HIC General Secretariat office in Santiago de Chile in November 2003 concluded the transition period initiated in 2002 with the purposes to integrate the new Board, elect the new President, and name the new General Secretariat and GS office location. The closure of the Cape Town offices and activities of the transitional coordination office in Padua, Italy on 30 June 2003 obligated the Presidency to assume some operative activities which also concluded on that date with Ana Sugranyes’s visit to our offices in Mexico. 2.2.- Attention to some pending issues regarding HIC organizational structure At the last HIC Board meeting held in Wuppertal, Germany in August 2003 (see my report Pres-MO-03-03), a few issues remained pending: the election of a North American Board member; new regional elections in Anglophone Africa; confirmation of two regional focal points, and the election of the Women and Shelter Network coordinator. During the past months I have been in contact with those responsible to follow up on these issues. Michael Kane of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) was elected in October 2003 as North American representative to the HIC Board. I also received confirmations from Mazingira and from the ACHR office in Bangkok as the focal points for Anglophone Africa and Asia respectively. Somsook Boonabancha named Ted Añana of the Philippines as operative liaison person between HIC and ACHR. I have sent communications to Mazingira and to Tabitha Siwale to request the organization of new regional elections to comply with the HIC Board agreements. No results have been obtained to date, thus leaving Anglophone Africa unrepresented in the Board. We have been informed by the two existing WAS representatives within the Board that the election of the Women and Shelter Network coordinator will take place at their next meeting. 2.3 HIC Office in Mexico. The Presidency shares office spaces and services with the HIC Latin American Regional Office. While all the work is undertaken as a team, we have established clear distinction between the Presidency and the regional coordination. Lorena Zárate, who joined our team during the organizational process in preparation for the First World Assembly of Urban Inhabitants in 2000, acts as coordinator the HIC Latin American office since January 2004. The creation of this office to some degree follows the example of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights in the sense that it is an office dedicated to promote and facilitate social processes and the work of its 120 Latin American members. The HIC-LA office operates autonomously (not linked to any other NGO or social organization), has its own budget and staff, and coordinates and supports diverse regional projects. It is different from ACHR which operates more independently of HIC, in that the HIC-LA office is registered as HIC representation office for Latin America and is constituted as a body within the structure of HIC International. HIC-LA is currently developing 5 international projects and actively supports and contributes to the work undertaken in Mexico by some of our local HIC members linked to these projects. Its activities and projects are focused around themes related to habitat-related human rights, social production of habitat, and disaster prevention, fields permanently crossed by gender and environmental themes. 3.- Other activities Over the past year I also participated in representation of HIC in the Latin American Seminar on Successful Practices in Social Production of Habitat and in the Regional Consultation on Women and the Right to Adequate Housing convened by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, both organized by HIC-LA and carried out in October and December 2003 respectively. I also presented a paper in a course on Globalization, Housing and Social Movements organized by the University of Alicante, Spain in March 2004. I was invited by HIC members to attend some relevant meetings in Lima, Peru on tenants’ issues; in Cordoba, Argentina on housing policy; in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to participate in the International Meeting on the Right to Housing and Land; in New York to attend the XII meeting of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12), and most recently in Bangkok, Thailand on housing finance organized by Diana Mitlin and ACHR. In these cases, considering not only the Presidency’s financial limitations but also the importance of not restricting HIC presence and representation to a few people, I solicited funds from HIC-LA and the Secretariat so that other persons committed to the HIC activities and located closer to the events could respond to these invitations. In the case of the IV World Social Forum of Mumbai, considering the new Secretariat’s weak financial situation and the debt from the transition period derived from the Third World Social Forum, it was decided that our presence would be limited to the activities of the Housing and Land Rights Network – organized with HLRN’s own resources – and the presence of Evaniza Rodrigues in her role as Board member, supported by HIC-LA, to participate in the debates on the World Charter for the Right to the City. In order to keep this letter brief I have limited myself to only outline the noted activities. Those HIC members who would like more detailed information on any particular issue are invited to please request it. With my most cordial wishes, ENRIQUE ORTIZ HIC PRESIDENT