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The Land is Ours. Vulnerabilization and resistance in informal settlements in Puerto Rico: Lessons from the Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Between 2002 and 2004, residents from seven informal settlements
located along the Caño Martín Peña, a highly polluted channel in San
Juan, Puerto Rico, established a community land trust to regularize
land tenure and protect the historically marginalized barrios against the
threat of displacement, as an unintended consequence of the ecological
restoration of the channel. This article looks at the Fideicomiso de la
Tierra del Caño Martín Peña (the Caño Martín Peña Community Land
Trust or Caño CLT) from a political ecological perspective, as it aims
to identify how the interests, policies and discourse of political and
economic elites function to perpetuate the vulnerability of residents in
unplanned settlements, and how the Caño CLT is an effective
instrument to counter this process. The Caño CLT supports on-site
rehabilitation by taking land out of a hostile market, reinforcing
solidarity networks and democratizing sustainable planning through
ongoing participatory planning-action-reflection processes. It is a
critical piece of the wider comprehensive development ENLACE
Caño Martín Peña Project, whose benefits include reducing the risk of
flooding and restoring the environmental qualities of the mangrove
channel. The article considers that informal settlements like those in
the Martín Peña area are often located in a city’s most environmentally
vulnerable, yet ecologically and geographically valuable areas, prone to
land grabs after disasters. By looking at public discourse in Puerto Rico
and the U.S. in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that struck
the island in 2017, we analyze the assumed links between informality
and vulnerability and how these assumptions are used to spur public
support for displacements. The article argues that documenting and
theorizing the knowledges produced by the enduring resistance of the
Martín Peña communities can support residents in unplanned
settlements in the Global South to come together and create
mechanisms that protect land and counter vulnerabilization.
Tijdschrift: Radical Housing Journal
ISSN: 2632-2870
Issue: 1
Volume: 1
Pagina's: 29-47
Aantal pagina's: 18
Jaar van publicatie:2019
Trefwoorden:Community Land Trusts, Informal Housing, Land Rights, Political Ecology, Puerto Rico, vulnerability and risk