Tuesday, August 31, 2010

squatter TV in Buenos Aires

Residents of the Buenos Aires squatter community called Villa 31 have started a TV station, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports.

The new station is called Mundo Villa, and the article says it will offer original programming plus shows from three countries that many of the residents of Villa 31 hail from: Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru. "There are 25 guys in the neighborhood working to gather news, while journalism workshops are being given by students from different universities," said Mundo Villa TV director Victor Ramos.

The paper reports the station will be available to 1500 households--a number that seems suspiciously small given that a local cooperative claims the neighborhood's population is more than 120,000.

Ramos said his group would be meeting with the head of TV-Roc, the cable franchise that brings signal to Rocinha, most famous favela in Rio de Janeiro, to establish "a network of channels from Latin American slums."

When I was in Rocinha in 2001, TV-Roc did no original news programming. Perhaps that's changed. Does anyone know? Doew anyone know of other efforts by residents of squatter communities anywhere else in the world to produce news programs?


lifeinrocinha said...

yes tvROC does have local news on it now. I live in Rocinha


rn said...


Thanks. Is the TV ROC local news program any good?

David Stocker said...


I have just came across your blog after watching one of you lectures on TED. I have ordered the book and am anxious to read more.

I wondered you have read any of the Austrian economist ( Ludwig von iises or Murray Rothbard) who argue for individual "human action" over a governmental "design" in the formation of cities and markets. I find a place like Rocinha to be an almost anarcho-capitalist society. There seems to be formation of a social order and mutual market cooperation sans formal government. It seems to me that these "Shadow Cities" are not just the city of tomorrow, they might just be better models of how cities could develop in a sustainable way.

I am an architect and have been independently studying how governmental codes and zoning have a delirious effect on society at the margins.

Looking forward to reading the book and catching your blog

rn said...


I absolutely agree that squatter cities and self-built street markets are a model for the future. And that squatters and street vendors create spontaneous mutual institutions that help govern their communities.

But Rothbard, for one, argued against almost any governing function at all (you can find his magnum opus, Man, Economy, and State, here: http://mises.org/rothbard/mes.asp). He even argued there should be no licensing or board certification for doctors.

Squatters, of course, work in the interstices of government rules. They exploit some and ignore others and make use of still others. And they definitely create regulations, though unwritten, for their communities (one small squatter area in Rio de Janeiro created a kind of proto-zoning, capping the height of buildings in the community to 3 stories.) Rothbard and Mises would, I suspect, consider this a treasonous action.

Let's keep this thread going, as it's an interesting topic.

David Stocker said...


I also find the topic very interesting.

I haven't read "Man, Economy and State" but I have read what others have said about Rothbard. While he does argue about state licenses and certification, I don't think that he was arguing against private associations for licensing or certification. His argument is that when there is failure, the state board doesn't go out of business.

I assume that the explotations of governmental rules in the favelas are how electricity is hacked into and how other services are provided (trash, sanitation, etc.. I would be interested in how this happens.

Again, I don't think that Mises or Rothbard are against regulation per se. Regulation to them would be of the private variety by means of mutual cooperation and formal and informal private contracts. There argument would be with the "Planner" downtown saying no three story buildings here and not with the "planner" next door, that sells you land next door, with the stipution that there would be no three story buildings here. I find them to be quite differnet. The "Planner" has little if any skin in the game, while the "planner" has personal and local interest in mind.
What I do see Mises and Rothbard seeing as a treasonous action act would be regulations done by any coersive act.

I like to make the argument that in order to form these self built urban forms you need both freedom and virtue. I am very interested in your thoughts on the virtue of the flavela.

If you cover this in your book, just tell me to finish the book first.

brian said...

If you are not already familiar with the works of Christopher Alexander, especially his latest, "The Nature of Order" he has a lot of interesting things to say about how lively, beautiful, interesting architecture/cities are formed and how the typical official city planners obstruct the real ways that beautiful environments are created.

rn said...


I know Christopher Alexander's 'The Production of Houses," which was a great influence on my thinking. I'll take a look at 'The Nature of Order' as soon as I can.

David Stocker said...


Just finished the book and thought it was great. I loved the detail of life in a "shadow city". It really helped me kind of (I am sure you heve to live there to really undersatnd) understand the driving forces at work.

I will add a second to any of Christopher Alexander's work. Add in Pattern Language to your list as well.

I have a few questions on the book that I will add later, but again great job on the book!

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