Self-Governed Neighborhood in Mexico City

A collective in Mexico City takes back land and builds homes together. Los Panchos responded to escalation of housing prices by occupying vacant land in 1988. Their biggest challenge was to “defeat our fears,” reported activist Enrique Reynoso. They built the El Molino neighborhood, starting with wood and cardboard houses. The settlers are anti-capitalist and anti-state, influenced by the Zapatistas to want to transform the world, but they resist ideological labels like socialist. The landowners called in the police resulting in battles with the squatters that led them to learn basic medical skills. They also formed community patrols to keep police out and the crime rate dropped to almost nil. The community built schools, health and sports facilities, all governed by local assemblies. Neighborhood representatives to the larger community rotate. The homebuilders negotiated with landowners to buy the land at an affordable price. By 2016, the number of occupied neighborhoods expanded to 10 settlements with over 9,000 residents.


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