Thursday, January 23, 2014

Manifestations and Response: Urban Grievances in Latin America

Manifestations and Response: Urban Grievances in Latin America

Latin American Studies Ass (LASA) Panel Description

This panel brings together a unique set of papers examining the ways in which citizens present their grievances and elicit responses from city governments throughout Latin America. Papers on Brazil, Peru, and Mexico detail the conflicts that arise when development policies clash with the rights and demands of urban citizens, while Esser presents the striking results of a survey documenting why and how citizens express their grievances in the face of tremendous violence. Further, Smith and Benton study  international capital markets and their effects on finances cities in Mexico.  Mesa and Ramirez both document the policy making process in which governments face both financial and political constraints to incorporating citizen interests.

1. Resisting Urban Development: Social Movements and Megaprojects in São Paulo, Brazil

Maureen Donaghy
Assistant Professor
Departments of Political Science and Public Policy and Administration
Rutgers University

Cecilia de Morais Machado
Post-doctoral fellow, Universidade Federal do ABC, São Paulo, Brazil

What is the role of social movements in communities impacted by urban megaprojects? In rapidly developing cities, large-scale infrastructural development produces both environmental and social challenges around which social movements seek to protect the interests of residents. In São Paulo, Brazil, both environmental and housing movements mobilize around the issues related to construction for transportation projects in the periphery of the city. While both movements claim to represent the interests of residents, their separate agendas threaten to weaken the impact of both groups in securing benefits, permanency of tenure, and safe conditions for residents. In this paper we review the case of movements contesting the construction of the northern beltway in the city. We seek to assess three questions: 1) how the interests of environmental and housing movements do and do not coincide, 2) how each movement chooses and implements strategies; and 3) how the coordination and conflicts between movements serve the interests of community members. Through this analysis we provide further evidence towards understanding the repertoires of current urban social movements and their role in representing the democratic rights of citizens. Further, like in other cities around the world, as new social movements seek to coalesce around urban issues following mass protests, we aim to review how diverse interests may either help or harm the ultimate outcomes for low-income residents. 

2. Housing for Whom? The Institutionalization of Homeownership in Peru
Lauren Ross
Doctoral Candidate
Temple University 

Over the past 20 years, housing finance has grown in many developing countries – bundled in policies that promote neoliberalism and integration in global financial markets. With considerable support from national governments and international financial institutions, institutionalized mechanisms for housing finance have been developed to increase the availability of mortgage credit. In Peru, efforts to expand formal, mortgage-backed homeownership for greater segments of the population have been the primary housing solution carried out by the national government. Interviews with public and private officials indicate that the Peruvian government (seeing what was considered good practice elsewhere through the lenses of international financial institutions) saw housing as part of larger strategies to generate urban investment and promote the financial sector. The policy that emerged targets the segment of the population that is able to pay for housing with basic leverage from public policies – the middle and middle-upper classes. The local manifestations of these policies have resulted in a series of local-national conflicts around the use of urban space and the best way to reduce the housing deficit. These processes reveal the inherent challenges of a housing strategy that emerged as an appendix to financial market reform and its effect on the urban landscape. Overall, findings will describe how the institutionalization of homeownership is affecting urban governance and development at the local level and serve as an important case study on how we might start thinking about this in emerging economies whereby urban environments are increasingly shaped by the availability of mortgage credit.

3. Political Determinants Of Municipal Debt: Explaining Borrowing Patterns Of Mexican Cities

Heidi Jane Smith, 
Visiting Professor, ITAM, Mexico

Allyson Benton
Professor/ Researcher
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas A.C. (CIDE)

Mexican municipalities have increasingly accessed both private capital markets as well as public sector lenders since the 1997 reforms to Article 9 of the National Fiscal Coordination Law. Some municipalities have seen their private and public debt burdens skyrocket, while others have not acquired public debt at all. Some municipalities have chosen to raise their relatively less expensive private sector debt loads, while others have chosen to access more costly public credit sources. This study joins public management and political economy research to explain the administrative foundations and political decisions behind Mexican municipal debt profiles. Statistical analysis of municipal debt portfolios overtime will show the important role of administrative hurdles for preventing some municipalities from building a balanced debt portfolio, but that partisan bias and other political factors also come into play in determining the level and type of debt assumed.

4. Gender, Faith and Victimization: Catalysts of Collective Action Amid Violence in Ciudad Juárez

Daniel E. Esser
Assistant Professor of International Development
American University

The paper presents findings from survey research conducted in late 2012 on civic responses to violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico between 2008 and 2012. The data show that despite generally unfavorable conditions for collective action, residents of what used to be the world’s most murderous city engaged in a variety of collective coping mechanisms ranging from vigils and protests to patrols and barricades. The paper explores economic, psychosocial and institutional approaches to explaining what might have motivated the pattern of activities observed. A subsequent statistical analysis produces results that confirm some prominent theoretical propositions while challenging others. Although residents with a longer duration of tenure in Juárez as well as those living in smaller households were more likely to have partaken in faith-based groups, the strongest predictor for faith-based engagement was the personal experience of victimization. The latter was correlated further with participating in community watch groups. With regard to collective action aimed specifically at preventing and coping with victimization from crime, men were significantly more likely to engage in community initiatives to take back space, such as fencing off cul-de-sacs to create safe zones with restricted access or hiring security guards. Such actions were also significantly more likely to be taken by lower-income respondents as well as respondents who reported knowing victims of kidnapping and disappearances. Those participating in faith-based activities were, rather unsurprisingly, likely to conduct vigils. Similarly unsurprising, those reporting active membership in community watch groups were significantly more likely to engage in street monitoring, seeking arrangements with local police or cordoning off streets. Remarkably, the latter two activities were predicted almost equally well by active political party membership. Finally, residing in low-violence neighborhoods was associated significantly with active participation in street monitoring as well as reporting existence of community watch brigades and street closures in these areas. It seems plausible that residents of less violent neighborhoods were thus able to capitalize on relatively more conducive conditions for collective action than those faced by residents of neighborhoods with a high incidence of homicide during the reporting period.

5. Institutional Environment Of Policy Agenda: Who Plays, Why And How?

 Oliver D. Meza, 
PhD, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas A.C.
Associate professor University of Guadalajara, México

Local mobilizations are seen as social responses towards economic or political enterprises. However local organizations lobby too, promoting (or to stop) policy items going into governments agendas. While influence between these two variables is well studied, other systemic factors may be influencing both; either social organized actions and local agendas. I present a study comparing three groups of municipalities; each of them accounts for a different story on the relation between local interests and influence on local government’s policy agenda. Along the analysis, noticeable differences were observed between each of these three groups of case studies. Actors engage in governance processes according the type and scope of laws local legislature approve. Authorities’ pool of resource varies and such constrains what local governments do. Geopolitical and economic importance of localities reshapes relations between local and state governments, or among neighbor local governments affecting policy priorities and incentives. These different institutional environments influence not only how local government shapes their agenda but also how other socioeconomic and political organizations take form. The research heads towards a local policy making theory helping to pinpoint different set of structural and systemic factors that also play an important role in local policy making.

6. El desarrollo urbano sustentable como política redistributiva: cambios en los derechos de propiedad e impactos sociales

Edgar E. Ramírez de la Cruz
Professor/ Researcher
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas A.C. (CIDE)

La forma urbana está estrechamente relacionado con las políticas sustentables, sobre todo cuando se intenta promover una forma compacta de crecimiento. En general, se considera que al ser una política sustentable implica mejorar el bienestar de las personas, elevar los niveles de vida y mejorar condiciones generales de la población. Sin embargo, como cualquier política, ésta tienen serias consecuencias redistributivas son en general poco entendidas y estudiadas. En particular es limitado el entendimiento que tenemos sobre como las políticas asociadas al desarrollo sustentables afectan los derechos de propiedad de las personas. Esta situación representa un serio descuido, sobre todo si consideramos que estos efectos redistributivos afectan las preferencias de las personas y tienen el potencial de generar otros efectos inesperados y contrarios al objetivo inicial. Con el fin de llenar este hueco en la literatura, el presente documento busca identificar la reasignación de los derechos de propiedad (Alchian y Demsetz, 1973) y los efectos redistributivos de dos políticas urbanas asociadas a la forma compacta y al desarrollo sustentable. En particular, la Ciudad de México ofrece dos ejemplos destacados de este tipo de políticas: el Bando Informativo número 2 (B2) del año 2000 y algunas modificaciones instrumentadas desde 2006 al proceso de conexión a la red de agua potable para nuevas construcciones.

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