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March in Caracas against real estate tycoons

At 10 am on 18th of September, in Plaza Bolivar, Caracas, the Comités de Tierra Urbana (Urban Land Committee), Red de Inquilinos (Tenants’ Network), Red Metropolitana de Inquilinos (Metropolitan Tenants’ Network), Campamentos de Pioneros (Pioneer Settlements) and the Conderjes Unidos por Venezuela (Caretakers United For Venezuela) gathered together for a march to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to demand that magistrates put an end to tenant evictions. At 11 am, the group, comprising over a thousand sandal-clad citizens wearing t-shirts bearing the International Alliance of Inhabitants logo and that of its “Zero Evictions“ campaign set off.

The boisterous and lively crowd was in high spirits as it moved through the streets of Caracas city centre to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice buildings. A PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) minibus equipped with loud speakers was set up in the street to convey the march’s objectives to those gathered. Several speakers took to the microphone to demand that magistrates put a stop to the evictions and that property owners respect Venezuelan law. In his speech, Andrés Antillano explained: “We are calling for the expropriation of those properties belonging to landlords evict tenants to make room for offices, for which the rent is considerably more lucrative. We also demand the handover of buildings which are practically abandoned by their property owners.”

The Tribunal doors were opened to a delegation of six representatives who were ushered in, to the slogans “No to Eviction, Yes to Housing”, “Zero Evictions” and “Yes to Expropriation”, chanted in unison by the demonstrators. Confronted by the strong demands of the representatives, the magistrates responded with a positive attitude, listening respectfully to the movement’s fair requests and promising to bring the evictions to an end. They went on to offer legal aid to Red Metropolitana de Inquilinos for the development of proposals for a housing law which would protect tenants’ rights, and suggested the establishment of committees to review eviction cases. More importantly, they said they were in favour of the project to reform the housing law.

Groups from the interior of the country, tenants from all parishes of Caracas and an international delegation of inhabitants from the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Spain took part in the march.

As the event drew to a close, Jenny Verdura, Ivonne Guzmán and Jenny Labrador from Red Metropolitana de Inquilinos, as well as Maritza from Campamento de Pioneros, expressed their optimism for the positive results of the march for all tenants threatened with eviction. In fact, five members of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice had committed to halting evictions, and they believe the magistrates will keep their word.