Colombia: massive evictions and housing struggle in Cali

Featured image: Cali’s residents struggling against the massive evictions carried out in the city. Source: El País

Cali, one of the most important cities of Colombia, with almost 2 and a half million inhabitants, is in the scenario of a fierce struggle of its residents against the evictions and the anti-popular measures from the old Colombian State against the housing rights of the people. The newspaper Nueva Democracia has recently reported on it. The vast majority of the masses from Cali are defined by the State figures as poor, and half of the working class works informally. This shows the difficult economical situation which the people from Cali is going through. Additionally there is a constant increasing of the population of the city and therefore the lack of houses has sharpened. The old Colombian State is carrying out several mega-projects that if they succeed, will have as a consequence massive evictions: Plan Jarillón and the regional train which will connect the municipality of Jamundí and the city of Cali.

The goal of Plan Jarillón is to mitigate the risk of floods, with measures such as the strengthening of the walls to block the Cauca river which goes through the city, and to make the lakes Pondage and Charco Azul as receivers of rain. Nueva Democracia reports on the consequences of this first mega-project: “However, currently there are approximately 15 settlements that are up to 40 years old, which would be affected by this one [Plan Jarillón]. According to the investigations of Plan Jarillón, 8,777 families would be affected. However, the communities which are living in these settlements state that there are much more families (around a 20 or 25% more)”. [Translator’s note: all the translations are ours, and therefore unofficial].

The other mega-project, the regional train which would connect the municipality of Jamundí with Cali, would be built through a road in which there are 1,000 families, 200 of them being in Cali. There, the Colombian State has not offered any kind of ‘solutions’ for the inhabitants. Nueva Democracia explains the reasons of these evictions: “This area is part of the urban expansion of the city, therefore there are economical interests of the construction companies and of the wealthy inhabitants, which agree with the eviction of the popular sectors which inhabits in this place”.

The Colombian State has shown its class character against the people from Cali in other occasions. Nueva Democracia points out that “in October 2022 more than 3,000 families were evicted by the ESMAD1”. Before these attacks against the rights of the people, Nueva Democracia points out how the people had made the decision of combating and resisting, and not surrendering in front of these problems: “The path which the popular classes have found facing the need of housing, is the struggle, in the individual way and in the collective way.”. The people from Cali has organized mobilizations and struggled against the evictions with fierce resistance as it will continue doing.

1Colombian Anti-riot police, well-known for its brutality and violence.

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