Home » The Urban Way » R-Existences, the turning point of Quito. The New Inhabitants' Agenda VS the New Urban Agenda » Popular Resistance to Habitat III

Mostra/Nascondi il menu

The Urban Way

Popular Resistance to Habitat III

Resistencias Populares Hábitat III

Misión AIH en Quito, Ecuador (junio 2016)

Background:  the People’s Alternative Urban Forum in Medellin

For its participation in the process of mobilizing resistance to Habitat III, the International Alliance of Inhabitants drew on the experience of 2014 when all the local and national organizations in Colombia worked together to create the People’s Alternative Urban Forum (PAUF), as part of the World Urban Forum (WUF) organized by the UN in Medellin.

Initially, global networks and UN-Habitat itself viewed the space for debate and reflection underpinning the popular movement with suspicion. What is more, they gave the impression that they were betting that the popular initiative would fail in the face of the majestic display put on by the local government and the United Nations, which were seeking to define the future of cities without the involvement of their inhabitants. The WUF prioritized contributions from the construction industry, real estate sector, corporations, banks, academics, experts and national and local governments.

The Colombian popular movement and International Alliance of Inhabitants slowly but surely brought together the communities harmed by urban growth and exclusion in a social network that welcomed the inhabitants of the world to the University of Antioquia. The PAUF was a success, as demonstrated by the presence of more than three thousand people from 22 countries, who debated and outlined the city we want, in total harmony with nature. It should be noted that the only requirement for participating in the PAUF consisted of registering attendance and choosing a topic. Each participant was also given the food they needed, varied and in sufficient quantities, thanks to Colombians’ solidarity and their extraordinary gastronomy.

The frank, plural and open dialogue, culture and social mobilization at the University of Antioquia resulted in representatives of the WUF deciding to converse with the PAUF. It was very important for the popular movement to establish this dialogue with the local authorities and executive director of the WUF. It allowed them to demonstrate why the city we want must be sustainable, playful, loving, democratic and peaceful; and why we do not want the city-as-merchandise that the global real estate chiefs  are proposing.

The context: a year’s work on unifying popular movements

The PAUF experience enabled the International Alliance of Inhabitants to define a strategic line for political action driving the People’s Forum for Resistance to Habitat III in Ecuador, in October 2016, as a counterpart of the UN Habitat III World Conference. To put this approach into practice, we focused on the need to unify all the local, national and global resistance movements. Giving concrete form to this task involved linking together people’s organizations from Ecuador, the National Platform for Urban Reform in Brazil, Habitat International Coalition and International Alliance of Inhabitants.

We worked for a year on devising, planning, outlining, piloting and consolidating the collective space for all the world’s resistance movements, since we were aware of the pressing need to help the Ecuadorian popular movement to overcome the difficult circumstances afflicting it.  It is important to note that this work entailed going against the current, with the spheres of power using the following mechanisms to undermine, weaken and diminish social and popular organizations:

  1. repression of all forms of protest and resistance; 
  2. co-opting or dismantling the popular leadership;
  3. adressing the demands and reinstatement into the heart of the prevailing order of what remained of the opposition leadership;
  4. approval of structural reforms to support consolidation of the system, prioritizing promotion of the extractive model;
  5. approval of legal norms overturning people’s economic, social cultural and environmental rights. 

As a starting point, it was very important to take into account the adverse situation the popular organizations of Ecuador were experiencing, organizations whose members opened their houses to welcome the global resistance movement. Within this framework, it is vital that the type of resistance always expresses concrete forces, acting as a real manifestation of historical, social and holistic actors, i.e. integral to their cultural construction, their conscience and the ethical values that express it, their economic, political, social activities, in short, to their diverse worldviews and the process that embodies them.

Recent initiatives throughout the world, and particularly in Latin America, show that there is no preconceived or prefigured actor of resistance, but that this resistance is configured and built from multiple, varied and plural experiences, insubordination and open resistance against power, oppression, injustice and exclusion. Examples range from landless peasants in Brazil to the Zapatista indigenous people of Chiapas in Mexico, from women, young people and students to environmental activists, people of African descent, people defending human rights, LGBT people, etc.

Resistance as a principle for collective action does not compromise by embracing any form of domination, exploitation or oppression, since it seeks to become an emancipatory and libertarian force in the short and long term.

Resistance and not resilience, a modern term which conceals an ideology that has failed: accepting or adapting to the rules imposed by the neoliberal development of cities.

Of course, we are very happy to be able to point out that our forum was called RESISTANCEHABITAT3: we are popular resistance movements.

The party for resistenciashabitat3 is here

 We met the people committed to the resistance that we fight for in the International Alliance of Inhabitants in Quito, Ecuador, on October 14, to prepare the party celebrating our global forum RESISTANCEHABITAT3, the debate, organization, cooperative work, food and the collective voice that uses the slogan: “No, we’re going to Muisne,[1]  we’re staying!!!”. The fact is that we are not going anywhere, we are not running away, we are here to continue building the utopia of another possible society, because it puts nature at the heart of ruralizing cities.

On 14 October 2016, very early in the morning, with the sun enveloping the land, a sun illuminating hills that look like cones carpeted with every hue of green. A sun that bathed Quito in a beautiful light. Pristine, with no mist. A sun guiding the members of resistancehabitat3 to build the Urban and Community Way that inspires the ruralization of cities and breaks down the fictional frontier imposed by neoliberal imperialism between the countryside and the city in order to exploit them until they are destroyed.

In Quito we held a party for popular resistance, its magic overflowing with emotion as professed in the poetry of Roció Bastidas,[2]  who said: “In Quito we met to build tender, eternal, strong, united, rebel cities”, and, I say, cities that are also loving, peaceful and in harmony with nature, for this and future generations of biodiverse life.

[1] Island whose population the government of Ecuador would like to displace since it is at risk of a tsunami. However, at the same time a project for exploiting the same island for tourism was presented to the WUF.

[2] Spokesperson for the People’s Forum for Resistance to Habitat 3

The Volunteer translator for housing rights without frontiers of IAI who has collaborated on the translation of this text was:

Philippa Bowe Smith


Log in or create a user account to comment.