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Launch of the Zero Evictions Campaign in Venezuela

On 3 March 2007, in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela, the ‘Zero Evictions’ campaign was launched by a platform of organisations working for the right to housing and the democratisation of the city.

Such as Conserjes Unidos por Venezuela [Caretakers United for Venezuela], Red Metropolitana de Inquilinos [Metropolitan Tenants Network], Red de Inquilinos [Tenants Network], Fundación Nacional Comité de los Sin Techos [National Foundation of the Committee for the Homeless], Comité de Tierra Urbana [Urban Land Committee], Campamentos de Pioneros [Pioneer Settlements] and others. Over 2,000 people attended, from different social sectors facing the threat of forced eviction or the tragedy of not having decent housing.

The organisations represented at this event reaffirmed their commitment to fighting for the right to the city and to decent housing for all. They agreed a plan of action against evictions under the banner of the ‘Zero Evictions’ campaign, which is linked to the activities launched three years ago by the International Alliance of Inhabitants in various countries around the world.

The event started with the reading of a campaign manifesto describing the insecurity that has plagued many Venezuelan families for years, denying them the right that we all share to housing and to a decent envrionment, a right that has been denied because housing is treated as a commodity, ruled by the interests of financial capital and a handful of property developers rather than the collective interest of the masses. The same manifesto announced collective measures to attack the scourge of evictions and real estate speculation.

Every speaker from all the participating organisations denounced evictions and spoke about their everyday experiences as well as the solutions that they envisage to their problems. All agreed on the need for a change to the existing legal regime, proposing, among other things, the repeal of the Law of Rental Property, reforms to the Civil Code, revision of the Penal Code, the regulation of housing sales, the creation of mechanisms to give people access to urban land, and the need to put a stop to the replacement of housing by shopping centres that only serve to increase social exclusion. All of this demands collective action on the part of the different organisations involved.

The organisations involved all agree that they all suffer the consequences of the system of private property over urban space, which excludes and denies life and human rights. They agreed to fight to replace this form of property by more inclusive and equitable property relations.

The platform that is emerging around the Zero Evictions Campaign will concentrate on three lines of action: the fight against evictions, the fight against property specualation, and the acquisition of full rights to socially-produced housing. All this, so that those people who have a home should not have to face losing it; so that those who have ‘half a home’ – poor quality housing without services, decent urban surroundings or security of tenure – can obtain full rights to their homes; and so that those who have no home may be able to acquire one.

The event ended with greetings from the representatives of the international organisations present – the Movimiento Sin Techo de Paraguay [Paraguayan Homeless People’s Movement] and the Federación Uruguaya de Cooperativas de Vivienda por Ayuda Mutua [FUCVAM, the Uruguayan Federation of Mutual Help Housing Cooperatives] – and then with music from Réquiem, José Garcés and others, and with a party with our friends from the University, who added their own music to our struggles. So that, in the end, we can all fight for joy and hope and against the sadness and fear that capital wants to instil in us.

Manifiesto Campaña Cero Desalojos, Venezuela 3 de marzo de 2007