Urban Management in Mexico City?
Date: 1 January, 1997
Housing and land problems in Mexico City are similar to those which can be found in almost any Latin American city. But what is particular to Mexico is the way in which various actors interact, especially the government agencies charged with maintaining political control over those wishing to acquire housing or land.
In this context, a number of social organizations have been formed over the course of more than 30 years. One of the youngest and most visible of these processes is undoubtedly the Asamblea de Barrios.
As is the case with other urban organizations, the central demand of the Asamblea de Barrios is housing. It defends the right to housing in downtown Mexico city in
consolidated neighbourhoods with long cultural traditions.
Its work in gaining access to credit is accompanied by a novel and striking use of the media. Its activities are immersed in the culture and everyday lives of the people in the older downtown neighbourhoods, out of which emerged the mythic defender of poor neighbourhoods and tenants, Superbarrio.
The massive level of housing required by the Asamblea de Barrios has caused this demand to acquire a political content – reaching various levels of confrontation and resulting in various types of relationships with authorities. In addition, the organization has been able to bring together various social actors (academics, researchers, cultural workers and health workers) interested in promoting their proposals through the Asamblea de Barrios.
Asamblea de Barrios has sought and gained access to more than 12,000 housing units to date, through employing a variety of mechanisms and financial resources and the activities of various actors.
The NGO Casa y Ciudad has worked since 1983 with some of the territorial organizations which in 1987 gave birth to Asamblea de Barrios. Casa y Ciudad has shared goals, technical assistance, training, projects, programs, reflections and analyses with grassroots level membership, as well as intermediate and top-level leadership. This explains why many of Casa y Ciudads staff have been directly linked with Asamblea de Barrios structure.
To date no analysis has been made of the habitational and urban impact of Asamblea de Barrios in the course of its existence.
The relationship between the government and Casa y Ciudad was established through a social organization. The government (and its agencies) played only a financial role in the different activities which took place over the course of the first 8 years of the NGO to the benefit of some 12,000 families. In these actions, the social organization played the key role in negotiation with the State in decision-making and management.