Since 1950 the population of the world has increased from 2.5 billion to 6.1 billion. Many of these newcomers earn less than $1 a day--far below the U.S. poverty standard--and live in sprawling megacities such as Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in India, and Nairobi in Kenya. They are frequently beset by bad governments and corrupt officials. How do they survive?[Via Jesse Walker: When the Olympics Crush a Community - In defense of the favelas]
Investigative reporter Robert Neuwirth gives the answer in his fascinating book Shadow Cities. About a fifth of Rio de Janeiro's residents, half of Mumbai's, and two-thirds of Nairobi's live as urban squatters, a category that includes an estimated 1 billion people around the world. They don't hold title to the land on which they live; they are loosely if at all regulated; they do not pay taxes; they seldom receive postal delivery, water, sewers, roads, or other public services; and, in general, they live with a minimal legal order.
Anarchist political theorists have long dreamed of such a society; some of their ideas are today being put to the test. As Neuwirth reports, squatter anarchy can work surprisingly well. In the favela squatter settlements of Rio, law and order is privately maintained by local drug lords, and there is hardly any crime, comparing favorably in this regard with most Rio neighborhoods served by the city police. The housing is built one small step at a time. Although the exterior appearance is typically ramshackle at first, the interiors are surprisingly neat and comfortable, and after a few decades the outsides are often attractive as well. (...)
Neuwirth studied life in squatter settlements by living in four of them for a few months each. The physical conditions of life were most difficult in the Kibera settlement of 500,000 in Nairobi. Nevertheless, a strong sense of neighborhood community was present. Neuwirth reports that "many women...developed communal self-help networks" and "churches are a growth industry"; it sometimes seemed that "everyone in Kibera belongs to one church or another." Business dealings based "on trust" worked almost as reliably as those based on legal contracts. One Kibera resident who became a multimillionaire businessman chose to remain there because he liked the friendly and unpretentious people so much.(...)
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 14:35