The Road to the World Assembly of Inhabitants at Dakar-2011
The beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro was born and established amidst the hills (morros), spreading over the hills, rivers, lakes and cleared forests. The hill is its landmark; the irreplaceable image of the city of Rio, the most noticeable at the Corcovado, Pao de Azucar, Sao Francisco.
The hill landmark city expresses a deep heritage of black slavery, Indians, whites, dark hair, caboclos, which are becoming dismantling the nature and through deconstruction to bread new life into the colonial city, exclusive, capitalist, neoliberal. Living in the hill is a cry of popular resistance heralded as the black achievement "to extract milk from the stones” to build their neighborhoods Mangueiras, Rosinha, Cidade de Madre de Deus, Villa Autodromo, Arroio Pavuna, Libertad, Maravilha, Shuva, Passarinho, etc.
At Rio de Janeiro, enjoying the aftermath of the Brazilian summer, between 22nd to 26th March 2010 we gather hundreds of community leaders, social networks, NGOs, academics and politicians, from over forty countries to analyze the situation prevailing in world cities. The comrades of the Brazilian popular movement are responsible for setting the Urban Social Forum venue, at the Saudade neighborhood, where a series of workshops, lectures and seminars are hosted to discuss the future of cities. The agenda, of course, is fully met, and at the same time, leaves us intrigued about their culture, food, drinks and dancing.
After five days of intense discussions and despite the very hot weather as the sun was going haywire, we managed to reach the following conclusions:
1.- The capitalist system has generated, in this XXI century, a multiple crisis which has infiltrated our people, a crisis that is economic, environmental, political, social, of security, health, culture and civilization, and which is the sole responsibility of national governments, the bourgeoisie, local bureaucracy and multinational corporate groups, which have imposed in an authoritarian and stubborn fashion a neoliberal model at all costs, exploiting and plundering human beings and nature, placing them on the brink of collapse, it is sufficient to recall the great rains of Chalco and Angangeo in Mexico, the severe floods in Europe, the U.S. Katrina, and more recently, the floods and mudslides in Rio de Janeiro.
2.- In selecting the city as a starting point, we must bear in mind that there has not always been, at the start in a particular period, social progress which may come to an end, they have a beginning and can have an end. The city, the piece of the most holistic and integrated environment, which has allowed us to dream, plan, love, transform, pray, cook, rest, reproduce, play, plant, also consists of homes, neighborhoods, communities, poetry, monuments, music, paintings, the use of objects. Most significantly, the city is one of the most extraordinary products ever created by mankind. By definition, it is multifunctional, it promotes diversity and it is permanently constructed and reconstructed; it is a social product in the process of constant change.
3.-The current state of our cities provides a clear suspicion that urban policies implemented by national and local governments have failed. A precise example of this failure lies in the extreme poverty that prevails in the cities, a concrete sign of segregation, exclusion and marginalization, experienced by the majority of the population, coupled with a deteriorating environment, an alarming unemployment rate, cities highly pressured by collective needs, the gradual increase of drug addiction and urban violence, large deficits in public services and urban facilities, etc.
4.- We believe that capitalist and neoliberal cities, show their way of life, or rather their existence as reduced to a credit card, cell phone, ipod, pedigree dog, 50-apartment houses, sought-after latest car model, urban and traffic congestion, and sad grey city frenzied by violence, drug trafficking and major environmental degradation. The capitalist model is in crisis, in any form is severely wounded, because profit and speculation are valued foremost. The clear evidence of capitalist crisis is shown in cities.
5.- In this serious situation of deterioration in cities, initiatives emerge around the world from social organizations, networks of inhabitants who heroically resisted from evictions, fight against privatization and liberalization of the housing sector, occupy empty buildings and urban wasteland whilst solidarily defending the right to housing and the city. Other developed alternatives that prefigure various models are destined to become urban and rural public policies to achieve sustainable human development. Many of these experiences are accompanied and reinforced by local governments, academics and dedicated professionals. This demonstrates the extraordinary ability and maturity of urban social movements to engage in solving the various urban and rural problems creatively, efficiently and responsibly.
6.- To understand the pursuit of economic democracy, social, political, ecological, and cultural as the means to put an end to inequality, is the historic challenge of people, citizens and communities that builds up day by day, for the full participation of all stakeholders, resulting in the only constructive way to achieve the right to life and the city.
Community leaders, social networks, NGOs, academics and honorable politicians agree to meet again at Dakar, Senegal, in February 2011 to seek ways in changing the current paradigm that exists in the cities and rural countryside for a way of life and cities that rescues the good life and the sustainable urban way, fair and democratic.
INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD UNITED FOR THE RIGHT TO THE CITY!
The Volunteer translator for housing rights without frontiers of IAI who has collaborated on the translation of this text was: