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The ties are strengthening

Lima, April 9 (Info-viviendadigna)

Following a visit to Lima, Pedro Franco, representative of the Zero Evictions Campaign lead by the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), undertook to present a report on the problems of the colonies in Lima and Callao before the United Nations.

The Dominican social leader ended his three-day visit of Lima on April 3, after an extensive visit of the colonies.

Franco’s activities began on Saturday March 31 with a meeting with the board of administration of the Federation of Organisations of the Neighbourhoods of Lima and Callao (FOVELIC).

The federation’s managers Nicanor Janampa (San Martin-Confraternidad), Luis Rojas (Los Olivas de Pro sector A), Demetrio Sarmentio (San Juan de Lurigancho), Agustin Flores (Tejada Alta, Surco), Teresa Gonzáles (Pachacutec, Ventilla)

The architect Carlos Escalante, coordinator of the Campaign committee for the right to decent housing for all, presented the committee’s actions such as the proposal for a law for access to land and the creation of a Found for social housing. In the same way, Esther Alvarez, director of the Institute of urban development CENCA, and Marilú Sánchez of the Estrategia NGO made speeches to welcome the participants.

The delegation made up of Pedro Franco, the managers of the FOVELIC and the members of the Campaign committee arrived in the colony of Los Jardines del Mirador in the Pachacútec zone in the district of Ventanilla in the region of Callao, where they were met by Francisca Diaz, leader of the colony and Olga Ramirez, leader of the front which regroups 47 Pachacútec colonies.

Pachacútec is divided into 3 zones, Pilot Project, Special Project and the regularised lots which represent a population of over 200,000 inhabitants.

Franco noted that the colony suffered from the proximity of an illegal mining concession, a company which is a source of pollution for the inhabitants. Also, several zones of Pachacútec do not have access to drinking water and drainage.

On Saturday, Franco and the delegation continued their tour, with a visit to the Juan Pablo II colony which is part of the municipal Confraternidad housing of the district of Los Olivos in the northern zone of Lima.

The representative of the bloc 93 A of the colony, Bertha Ibáñez, recounted eviction attempts which had failed thanks to neighbourhood solidarity. The inhabitants fought for the prescription of private acquisition but it had not yet been put in place, due to lack of resources, according to the Lima local council.

Luis Rojas, general secretary of the colony of Los Olivos de Pro sector A explained that the colony was looking to bring the legal expropriation process to a head and that the inhabitants were asking to pay the fair price, as well as the revision of the perimeter map of the Confraternidad programme which would include Los Olivos Pro A.

An assembly of approximately a hundred participants welcomed Pedro Franco to this colony. It should be emphasized that this warm reception was accompanied by greetings from Maria Ariza and words from inhabitants who had been concerned by the eviction attempts.

Luisa Rojas, a woman who lives permanently under the threat of eviction in her modest home of brick and wood in the colony of Los Olivos de Pro-Secteur C in the district of San Martin de Porres:

“The parceleros send us official letters threatening us with eviction but there are no documents which prove that they are the owners”, she says, in tears.

There are 16 other cases like Luisa’s in this colony. A group of people known as the “parceleros” claim to be the owners, having obtained the land, which was part of the Pro hacienda, during the agrarian reform.

According to the leader, Maria Ariza, the problem dates back to 1989 when over 100 people invaded this uncultivated land. They had to start from scratch, stabilise the land to build homes. Basic services were not made available until the mid 1990s. In many cases, through ignorance or negligence, the legal procedures have lead to a declaration of rebellion as the eviction threats could be carried out at any moment.

The delegation arrived in the colony of Los Rosales de Pro in the late afternoon. There had been a similar case in this colony, in Los Olivos , which is part of the Confraternidad housing programme.. During the visit, several testimonies were highlighted.

According to Domingo Corales, General Secretary of the colony, the confrontation with the Urbanizadora Pro began in 2002, as the COFOPRI recognises it as the owner of the land by the resolution 233.

The land has been occupied for 17 years, houses and services have been built and installed, and now the owners have appeared and demand payment of the lots.

Having made vain (thanks to the population’s solidarity) attempts at evicting several colony leaders, the Urbanizadora has apparently opted for the undertaking of legal procedures towards certain individuals and in the case of Block C, for the sale of the inhabited lots to a third party.

In both colonies a legal solution should be found via the process of prescription of the private acquisition which would lead to regularisation and which would allow a formalisation of the situation in the colonies situated on private property. Although there is already a resolution approving the prescription process for Los Olivos de Pro C, the town council of Lima alleges that it does not have the necessary budget to instigate this procedure.

As far as eviction is concerned, it should be underlined that in many cases, the land is not precarious, the administrative resolutions and the acquired rights exist and show that the inhabitants are within their rights.

Sunday April 1 began with a visit by the delegation to the Santa Rosa II colony on the outskirts of Lima. Before a large crowd, the leaders expressed their satisfaction at having succeeded in obtaining the land ownership regularisation, after over 18 years of occupation of their lots. They also thanked the Campaign committee and the CENCA for their work.

Magno Ayala, leader of the October 9 hill disaster victims, of the district of Augustino, was next to speak, and condemned the lack of political willingness to resolve the problem. They want to evict people from their provisional housing without proposing any real alternatives. The inhabitants of this zone lost their houses following a land collapse due to excavations on the hillside in which they lived. After the leaders’ speeches, the Campaign committee representatives took the stage. Finally, the inhabitants greeted the visitors with a warm welcome.

In the afternoon, the delegation arrived before a crowd on the slopes of a hill in the César Vallejo II colony, situated in the 19th commune of the San Juan Lurigancho district.

After a guided tour of the Caballo Mocho, Mi Peru, Nuevo Mundo, Nueva Mayoria and Villa Nuevo Horizonte colonies, among others, the delegation joined an assembly where the leaders José Alayo, president of the 19th commune which includes 48 colonies, and Cipriana Laguna of César Vallejo II presented the needs of their population which does not have access to drinking water. Alayo explained that 350 houses would be affected by the ring-road project which would link the central with the north pan-American. As a parting gift, the inhabitants presented the visitors with several local dishes.

To end the visit to San Juan de Lurigancho, the delegation visited the Señor de Esperanza savings and credit cooperative where they received a warm welcome from César Eche and Jésus Quispe, the directors. The directors emphasized the importance of a cooperative and supportive economy while faced with a neo-liberal individualist model.

At this last stage, the delegation lead by Pedro Franco visited several UCV (Communal Housing Units) on the heights of Huaycan, known by the name of Ampliaciones Unidas, in the district of Ate Vitarte to the East of Lima. The leaders, Susana Medrano and Aparicio Quincho, guided the visitors in the UCV to show them that among the main problems they were faced with, the need for building support walls should be highlighted, as the zone is at risk, and the difficult access to drinking water.

Pedro Franco’s commitments

In all of his speeches, the representative of the International Inhabitants Alliance (IAI) for Latin America and the Caribbean, and of the Zero Evictions Campaign expressed the need to reinforce popular organisation and unity, in order to win victories.

“We need conscience and organisation. Together, we can succeed in the shortest time possible, we can build a community of rights and another possible world” stressed Franco.

Pedro Franco presented the work of the IAI, mentioning important actions undertaken such as the 50 European towns which had declared themselves “eviction free”, or at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, this year, where international pressure had prevented the eviction of over 300 000 inhabitants.

The Dominican social leader reminded his audiences of the existence of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which stipulates that states must guarantee to all the right to access to housing and that eviction represents a violation of those rights.

Franco made a commitment in the name of the IAI in front of the inhabitants to carry out a study with a view to creating a Fund for social housing in Peru.

He also invited the FOVELIC to formally sign up to the IAI.

Finally, on Monday April 2, at a meeting with the representatives of the FOVELIC, the Urban Initiative Group (GIU) the Campaign Committee for decent housing, the Human Rights Platform and the group from the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR), Pedro Franco invited the participants to launch an awareness campaign for the Zero Evictions Campaign and for housing rights.