They came, they saw, they squatted

For some squatters, this wasn’t their first eviction and probably it won’t be the last…

Organized squatter groups have become “normal” in the last few years. From the rural areas to the largest cities, they take what they consider to be idle lands or unoccupied infrastructures, based on their constitutional rights to work the land or to have proper housing.

One NGO that represents urban land owners have calculated that at least 20,000 squatter invasions have taken place in Venezuela in fourteen years. Twenty. Thousand. Let that sink in.

Two buildings were taken over by squatters in Western Caracas on Monday, almost at the same time. Sure, a clinic was working in one of the buildings and a small shop in the other, but illegal occupants didn’t care about that. In the outskirts of the capital, the situation isn’t much better: in the Altos Mirandinos, there have been thirteen failed attempts at squatting so far in 2013, according to reports of the Miranda State Police.

But behind the claims of their right for decent housing lies the fact that squatting has also become a pretty good business for some folks. After all, extortion is a proven money-maker. Leaders demand money from owners in exchange for a peaceful withdrawal. As they come to the sites in large groups that include women and children, the chances of a swift eviction are reduced drastically… especially for groups identified with “the process”.

But in some cases, when the authorities are deliberately passive or they’re simply overwhelmed by squatters, it’s up to the locals to be alert and prepared to take a stand.

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  1. Parents who use their childrens as human shields while squattering should lose custody of them. It´s outrageous to see the same picture over and over and again.

  2. If the state wants to establish some esoteric right to claim and transfer ownership of property which it deems as serving no utile purpose for its current owner, or as not currently fit to serve some such purpose, there needs to be a legal procedure established which requires the state to present an argument supporting it’s claim and for an owner to contest it. In most places such procedures are heavily biased in favor of the owner since they have already invested in the property.

    This particular Venezuelan model is especially perverse in that while it may serve the useful purpose of providing shelter (what happened to all those government promises to do that by building new dwellings?) it typically does so in a chaotic manner which is often unsafe for those people and also causes aditional societal burdens for the entire surrounding community.

  3. What’s unbelievable is that the squatters expect to be supported by the government. Chavez turned Venezuela bass-awkwards.

    • Eh, football referees having to be protected by the police (or the National Guard in this case) isn’t that uncommon. Hardly unique to Venezuela.

      • Well a South Korean baseball player got shot in the leg during a game in what I think was el Estadio Universitario… No walk-offs for him I guess. *Badum Tsssst

        • Ok, I imagine a Chavista referee scenario like this. The referee gives a really bad call that helps his favorite team, immediately says the call is “irreversible”, then refuses any attempts to review the video despite other countries telling the referee that the game is not legitimate unless the results are reviewed. The National Guard in the picture are actually Cubans.

    • I recall a Colombian soccer ref in the 80’s was killed by a boom box that hit him on the head as he left the stadium. If memory serves he called a penalty against the home team, in Barranquilla I believe.


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