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The campaign for eviction-free municipalities

Following the success of the ‘Zero Evictions’ campaign in countries like the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Croatia, Italy and Kenya (where, in return for cancellation of the country’s external debt with Italy, most of the government’s planned 300,000 evictions from sub-standard housing in Nairobi have been blocked), the work of the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI) is now reaching the Spanish state.

Following the model deployed in France, where thirty or so municipalities, led by the PCF authorities in Bobigny, have decreed themselves ‘eviction-free’ municipalities, this transnational urban movement is currently working in the Iberian peninsula trying to get municipal councils to follow the French example. In France, administrative courts have declared most of these decrees invalid, but greater visibility has at least been achieved for a problem that may, according to IAI estimates, affect 500,000 people at risk of eviction for getting behind with their mortgage payments.

On 3 June, Cesare Ottolini, the coordinator of this grouping of some 350 organisations in 40 countries, told DIAGONAL that ‘after receiving a warm reception from the Municipality of Córdoba, we are trying to meet the local authorities in Vitoria, Jaén, Málaga, Sevilla and Rivas Vaciamadrid, amongst others, to try to get them to declare themselves eviction-free municipalities and to agree a “social urban pact” with associations and urban social movements, researchers and other stakeholders’. The underlying aim is to promote ‘the harmonious development of these cities, with respect to fundamental human rights and an improvement in the living conditions of their inhabitants’.

The Iberian tour was only one of a number of agreements taken in the meeting which the IAI Coordinating Committee held in the offices of the Regional Federation of Madrid Residents’ Assocations in the first week of June. The Alliance, which in turn forms part of the Coordinating Committee of the World Social Forum, and which also campaigns for the right to housing in ‘new’ countries such as Russia, China and Zimbabwe, has fixed 2010 as the date for the proposed World Inhabitants’ Assembly, a major international forum in which urban social movements will be able to work together.


Diagonal Número 81 Diagonal, Number 81: 26 June-9 July 2008