Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Organizing squatters

Under a decree signed in 2002 by President Hugo Chavez, squatters in Venezuela can get title deeds, if they create self-governing bodies called Urban Land Committees. So far, according to the country's Technical Office for Urban Land Tenancy and Regularization, there are now 5,212 of these committees across the country, each representing an average of 147 families. That means that approximately 766,000 families now have control over their homes: individual title deeds plus responsibility to participate in the urban land committees.

Sounds like a tremendously promising program. I'd like more details, particularly as things work out over time: will these communities organize and win services. Will they unite to preserve and improve their lives? Or will this hybrid attempt to have private ownership and community control founder because the interests of the individual may not jive with the wider interests of the community?

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