Demanding the Land
Urban Popular Movements in Peru and Ecuador
In 2010, co-founder Paul Dosh published Demanding The Land. The book is a careful look into the cases of ten neighborhoods in Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru in order to better understand patterns of success and failure in communities formed by land invasion.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, millions of impoverished people all over Latin America participated in illegal seizures of urban land. As many cities became saturated with squatter settlements by the 1980s, it was expected that such invasions would wane. But the increased economic vulnerability and expansion of informal labor activity brought about by neoliberal government policies spurred yet more invasions. Their goals remained the same: reliable electricity, potable water, sewer drainage, and legal title to illegally acquired land. However, changes in the economic and political context required different means for achieving these goals. Social safety nets were weakened, organized labor lost power, and some urban service monopolies were privatized — and the introduction of democratic municipal elections offered new avenues to secure these much-needed services. These challenges are the subject of the book — and of the research project that brought the Building Dignity team together.