Re: Interesting article

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Escrito por Anita C. desde ( el día martes, 07 de agosto, 2007 a las 16:27:31 horas :

En respuesta a: Re: Interesting article escrito por ZihuaRob desde ( el día lunes, 06 de agosto, 2007 a las 17:26:27 horas :

I agree that making space available, specifically regularized lots at affordable prices would be a good way to stem the tide of informal settlement. What most people with families want is home ownership with all the rights and responsibilities that this entails. For many who seek this, the only route is to begin by squatting on the periphery of a community. This leads to creation of massive "cinturones de miseria", so often seen ringing the cities of Latin America. But it has also (believe it or not) to eventual regularization of lots, extension of infrastructure and services, and incorporation into the city proper.

At the time when massive rural-to-urban migration was in full swing and places like Mexico City were growing by 5,000+ new residents a day, planners at the national level hoped that the building of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Cancun, and other places along the coasts would act as "poles" of development. They would not only become international tourist destinations, but just as important, they would provide alternative "destinos"(instead of D.F.,Guadalajara, and Monterey) for the native immigrants who were seeking jobs, schools, medical services, and so forth.

Where else to demonstrate this so well than in Guerrero? It had one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world and a majority of its population were living in extremely precarious social and economic conditions. As the saying goes,"...if you build it, they will come". And they did.

Every municipal administration of Jose Azueta had had problems over what to do about the lack of available housing and building space (regularized lots). Over the years, various strategies have been used to address growing concerns over informal settlements, i.e. squatters.

One strategy was to offer small locally-situated lots for purchase to local residents who did not have land. Long lines formed the day after the radio announcement was made. Reasonable putchase terms were set and a materials bodega was opened making low-cost materials available. You can see the result when you go to the Comercial Mexicana. It's across the canal and called Colonia Los Amuzgos.

A second strategy was to burn out a group of squatters. They were situated from Colonia El Limon above the road to Ixtapa (god forbid..)Local police declined to participate, so federal soldiers were brought in to rout out the residents and burn their houses down. The residents were so furious that they held the man in charge of this captive all night in his office. His calls for further military support were ignored, but the next morning, the burned-out residents were relocated the edge of Colonia El Embalse (to the left of Amuzgos) and later named their area "12 de Marzo" to commemorate the day when they were burned out and then were given land (a long time ago...1981).

A third strategy was to ramp up the building of apartments via the federal housing program. Thus, the huge apartment -building complex known as Infonavit El Hujal that you see on your left when you come into Zih from the north or from Ixtapa. They are now full. Such "low-cost housing" does not necessarily go to low-income people. They evolve to cater to the middle-class. (The exception being those in Cuba.)

A fourth strategy has been to create new settlements up or down Highway 200 such as that of Barrio Nuevo. A core of the original residents there were moved from their former site which they referred to as "El Limon Arriba" (above the barranca). Much of Barrio Nuevo is and has always been in need of additional infrastructure and services.

The idea of resettlement is a step in the right direction, but infrastructure and services should be a part of the deal. I think of Los Amuzgos, now very much an orderly neighborhood of proud families who built their own homes. Nevertheless, residents waited years for water, lights, and sewers to their homes (and while living on regularized lots for which they were paying). Can municipal budgets ever keep pace with these needs? Is anyone on the radio today offering low-cost lots to families of limited resources. How many, like Rob, have noticed that "the tides" are not found on La Ropa beach, but coming in over the mountains?

With this part of the planet having the greatest population increase in the history of world and with the chronic underdevelopment of the Mexican countryside, more people will keep moving in and building their own shelter.

Once in a conversation with an older, native resident of Zihua, he asked if it was true that in the U.S. we had thousands of homeless people . He had seen something about that on t.v. I told him it was true. He looked perplexed and said he just didn't understand it...why didn't those people find a little piece of land somehwere and build a simple house for themselves and their families. It told him it was hard to do that in the U.S. and that some people had just given up having a house. He shook his head disapprovingly...this man who had come from the country to the town...and said in a firm, proud voice, " I would never let that happen to me". So they will come and they will build.

I see this directly affecting tourism. I worry that tourism officials will promote the sheer (and very high) numbers of potential cruise ship visitors vis-a-vis a new pier, use "boon-to-the-local-economy arguments, encourage big investors, and environmentally-unfriendly projects in the hope that this will partially answer municipal budget shortfalls. Will these have strong appeal to the muni and state officials who see more red than black in their financial spreadsheets? I hope not, but certainly informal settlement on the hillsides, lagging municipal services, and the traditional chain-of-command-from-top-down way of making decisions makeme know how very important public and professional (lawyers) opposition will be to this pier issue.

Sorry for the long post, but the bay of Zihuatanejo, the ability to see the whole expanse of glistening bay in a sweeping glance, and to see green hills beyond is at the core of the tourist and resident experience.

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