December 11, 2017

Violence came after lack of investment in social housing

Friday, May 9, 2014

A four-year-old conflict that ended up giving rise to a ministry

On December 3, 2010, several families peacefully occupied a piece of land in the Indoamericano Park, demanding solutions to their housing problems. Four days later, City Judge Cristina Nazar ordered a raid and an eviction by a joint operation of Federal and Metropolitan police forces.

Police action led to the death of 24-year-old Bernardo Salgueiro and 28-year-old Rosemary Chura Puña. But the squatters remained. On December 9, a group of hooligans arrived and opened fire against the people demanding housing solutions, killing Emiliano Canaviri (38).

At that point, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner called for an end to violence and announced the creation of the Security Ministry.

“This government does not accept any member of the security forces raising a fist against someone who is protesting,” then-Cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández said.

Security Secretary Sergio Berni — who was then an official at the Social Development Ministry led by Alicia Kirchner — took an active role in “regularizing” takeovers at the park.

Officials from the Social Development Ministry led by Berni and current Security Minister Cecilia Rodríguez conducted a census of 5,800 homeless people that had been violently evicted by police forces.

After the land was cleared City officials announced the area would be fenced off.

A recurring problem

Incidents highlight a desperate lack of investment in social housing and overcrowding across the City.

According to the NGO Buenos Aires Sin Techo (“Homeless Buenos Aires”) there are more than 100,000 suitable lots that are currently empty in the city.

Despite this, some 12,000 people live in 150 unofficial settlements, 170,000 live in 16 shanty towns and 110,000 in unsafe buildings, a report by the Housing Committee of the City legislature revealed.

As several human rights organizations have been pointing out, improving housing conditions is still a pending issue for all governments.

Earlier this year, families reappeared at the site in the City neighbourhood of Villa Soldati.

“We have been at the Indoamericano Park takeover and now we are here again,” one of the women said. “We haven’t received an answer, that is why we are here again.”

Herald staff

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