Illegal city | Aldo G. Facho Dede

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Eleazar Cuadros, “Fiesta y fútbol”. Comas, Lima 2015.
Eleazar Cuadros, “Holiday and football”. Comas, Lima 2015.

According to the census of 2007, the last one about which we know proved, near 50 % of the of Lima population marginal (BUM),lives in neighborhoods urban which are defined as those urban cores that present levels of monetary poverty, and they lack services of infrastructure and equipment (MVCS 2012).2 Though the great growth of this type of developments was given between 1985 and 1995, to the date it has not stopped the invasion of lands of the condition, meaning, in his set, one of the principal urban and social problems to resolving in our cities.

This evidently is not fortuitous, and his origins go back to the half of last century, when by the first time there was discussed the model of politics destined to solve the increasing demand of housing product of the migrations to the economic centers of the country. This debate ended for identifying to two citizen’s profiles, one with right to a housing produced by the condition, and to other one that had to solve this need by means of “car construction”.

For the first mentioned profile there was designed a politics of construction of local units, which standards were changing according to the location and social segment of the addressees. And for the second one he remembered to allow the occupation of lands, of whose access to the basic services one entrusted the State later.

José Matos Mar, invasiones en Lima años 50
José Matos Mar, Invasions in Lima, years 50

The capacity of the State to construct housings remained rapidly exceeded by the strong migratory waves, and the model of “illegal city” (Calderon, 2005) it turned into the form like they would develop our cities. Though in the first moment the invading groups were shaped by families that were emigrating to the principal cities in search of a better future, the sociologist Julio Calderón Cockburn indicates that, from the 90s, and product of the neoliberal reform of the State, there was an important change of profile.

There was sharpened the conformation of dealers’ mafias of areas that, protected in the liberalization of the use of the soil and the mechanisms of qualifications (COFOPRI), advanced on the areas of the condition coludidos with civil servants and authorities.

Unidad Vecinal “Matute”, Santiago Agurto Calvo - Coorporación Nacional de la Vivienda 1952. Archivo S. Agurto.
Unidad Vecinal “Matute”, Santiago Agurto Calvo – Coorporación Nacional de la Vivienda 1952. Archive S. Agurto.

The recent capture of the mayor of the of Lima district of Santa Rosa, supposed ringleader of one of the dealers’ biggest mafias of areas, is only a case between many different, and puts in evidence the power of these mafias, which do not hesitate to take the political power of the cities to multiply his crimes.

Beyond approaching the need to have a much more strict control in the review of the candidates and the parties, which we must put on the table is the model of city that we want to construct as company. It is evident that to continue stimulating the urbanization of the desert, the hillsides and the valleys, only is leading us to constructing extremely costly cities, from the supply of the basic services, the transport and the equipments; fragile and vulnerable, for the occupation of zones of natural risk; and unjust and unlike, for the discrimination between whom they have access to the legal city and that they remain underprivileged persons in the illegal one.

Eleazar Cuadros, “Villa Militar”. Ancón, Lima 2008.
Eleazar Cuadros, “Villa Militar”. Ancón, Lima 2008.

We need as company to discuss a different model from city, who is allowed to regenerate sectors that today are subused, as the former industrial park of Lima and the Callao, where, for example, the Peruvian State is investing nearby US$10 billion only in big projects of mobility (Metropolitan, Meter line 2, LAMSAC, etc.), or the military complex of “Las Palmas”, which surface is similar to that of Jesus Maria, or the barrack Holes Blond, that Residential San Philip compares in dimensions to. Regenerating these three spaces we might approach to solve the current deficit of housing of the city.

This model of densifying instead of expanding the city must lead us to rethinking the “illegal” city, designing policies that they allow to relocate to the families in vulnerable leases, to densify the suitable zones for the urban use, and to protect the not suitable zones. Successful solutions exist in Latin America that we can take as modals.

Elaboración del autor en base a una imagen de Google Earth.
Own production on the base of Google Earth.

We are, once again, to doors of the choice of our next authorities, with the particularity that the existing ones will not be able to reelect. This must mean an opportunity to think as company, and to demand from the candidates proposed whites of egg and serious commitments that orientate the sustainable development of our cities. It is in our hands, in our vote to demand it and then to control his fulfillment.

Aldo G. Facho Dede · Architect and town planner 
Lima · Junio 2018
Author of the Blog Habitar: Ambiente+Arquitectura+Ciudad and founder of the Red Latinoamericana de Urbanistas


1 Ministerio de Vivienda, “Situación de los barrios urbano marginales en el Perú2012”. Cap.II, pág. 16


Arquitecto-urbanista, docente-investigador, convencido de que nuestro país necesita desarrollar sus ciudades en base a modelos de planificación urbana estratégicos y adaptativos, que partan desde las personas y el ambiente, y que busquen la multiplicación del bienestar y su equitativa distribución.
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