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Mexico: national action against INFONAVIT, the federal government and CAPMARK

Complicit governments have reduced the constitutional right to housing to nothing

Article 123 of the Mexican political constitution, a product of the 1910 revolution, requires employers to provide housing for their employees. However, Mexican big business and its ally the federal government refused to grant this right for many long decades, and it was not until 1970 that worker action and pressure forced them to uphold it. Employers and the federal government shrewdly set up housing institutions financed by 5% of workers’ salaries, 5% of employers’ salaries and 5% of the State budget.

These financial resources, managed by the federal government, were used to set up housing institutions such as INFONAVIT, FOVISSSTE and FONHAPO and to thus uphold the constitutional mandate by providing Mexican workers with housing. In the wake of the financial crises of 1994, workers who had been allocated housing were unable to repay their debts to the State housing institutions. In 2006, Vicente Fox’s federal government decided to sell all the unpaid debts owed to housing institutions to the American property businesses CAPMARK and SCRAP2, which will then take legal action in order to deprive workers of their housing. These businesses will make profits of over 1000%. History is repeating itself: complicit governments are giving away the wealth of Mexican society to the North Americans.

The Consejo Nacional de Defensa de la Vivienda (National Council in Defense of Housing - CDV) was formed to deal with the crisis triggered by the unpaid debts and evictions carried out by CAPMARK in alliance with federal judges and the transnational banking sector. On 20 August 2007 the CDV organized a national action against INFONAVIT in the central offices of Barranca del Muerto, Mexico City. Dozens of comrades from the states of Mexico, Mexico City, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes and Veracruz soon arrived to protest and demand that Felipe Calderón H.’s federal government cancel the decree on the sale of unpaid debts to the foreign business CAPMARK and that it put an end to all the evictions planned for this year. Over three hundred comrades, disciplined as well as ready to take action, responded to the CDV’s call and demonstrated their dissatisfaction with INFONAVIT, the federal government and CAPMARK.

The INFONAVIT employees hid inside their bunker and no one appeared to receive our petition. This attitude on the part of the federal government only fueled our fighting spirit; various voices were raised to demand a total halt in evictions and an explanation of a situation whereby “beneficiary” businesses, headed by CAPMARK, in alliance with bankers and judges, are promoting the evictions.


In Mexico we joined together to create the National Council in Defense of Housing, the CDV, to prevent large-scale evictions, and we have set up three regional branches: centre, south and north. It is only by taking these measures that we will be able to defend the property of the community of workers who purchased social housing using mortgages that are impossible to repay. Since Felipe Calderón’s government has adopted a pernicious housing policy, consisting of granting unreasonable loans with a view to depriving people of their housing and selling it on to private enterprises, the CDV has joined forces with the Zero Evictions Campaign promoted by the IAI, the International Alliance of Inhabitants. We decided to join and support the campaign as we know that international solidarity is the only means of curbing evictions in our country.

The unpaid debts situation in Mexico needs to be examined in more detail. It should be noted that financial speculation is intrinsic to capitalism and that, because of the networks of financial transactions, the speculation concerning, in this case, mortgages affects different markets.

The crisis that arises when a speculation bubble blows up until it reaches the point of explosion is triggered by a lack of liquidity, i.e. the disappearance of buyers.

First came a lack in people buying housing with mortgages, a lack due to the rise in prices triggered by the increased demand in a market inflated by credit. Then, as a knock-on effect, came the lack of buyers of these credits on the secondary market where the banks and other financial institutions are active.

Property developers therefore found themselves with unsaleable housing on their hands, loan organizations with contracts that generated no money, and banks and investment bodies with financial securities linked to mortgages operations that they could not be rid of. The debts accumulated by all these market players thus remain unpaid, leading straight to a crisis situation. Since it is liquid assets that are missing, an economic term that refers to the money needed to pay the transactions on a given market, in this case, the property market, the central banks (by definition the last resort for credit within the financial system) have to supply liquid assets (money) to avoid a crisis being triggered.

This situation means that Felipe Calderón’s government has to sell all unpaid debts to North American businesses such as CAPMARK and SCRAP2, transforming the right to decent housing into a commodity, a major piece of business given to these “beneficiary” enterprises that aim to make profits of over 1000% when they resell the housing snatched from the workers.

At the CDV we believe that we have to fight to put an end to this policy of depriving and evicting workers. This action should also be linked up to the fight being waged by American workers, exposed to the same destructive policy in their country, and by Chilean workers.

We also propose that the IAI works with us on the goal of bringing together all the campaigns in Latin America and the Caribbean addressing the zero evictions theme.

What really interests us is to create an organic link between regional anti-eviction campaigns and promote international action on the 6 October 2007 during the World Zero Evictions Day in order to demand that national governments put an end to evictions policies.