En busca de la Ciudad Socialista del Siglo XXI

Tomás de la Barra
January 2011
 What is the XXI Century Socialism?
 Cities of Latin America: the legacy of the Capitalist
 The XXI Century Socialist City
 Technologies to support the Socialist City
What is the XXI Century Socialism?
 Many countries in Latin America have abandoned the neo-
liberal model towards a socalist orientation (Venezuela,
Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina…)
 The term ‘XXI Century Socialism’ is emerging as a new
model that must be constructed.
 In Venezuela everyone agrees that this is the model to be
pursued, but most leaders admit the the concept has yet to
be defined.
 The ‘centralised ’ (totalitarian?) model that prevailed in the
Real Socialism of the XX Century is definitely not favoured.
What is the XXI Century Socialism?
 The cuban model with more emphasis on
participation (bottom up) points to the right direction,
but does not go as far as current expectations.
 The new model must be fully democratic and provide
ample space , channels and networks to participation.
Keywords in the current debate are: protagonistic and
participatory democracy, as against representative
Communal state
 The communal state is another related concept that is
emerging with considerable force
 The 1999 Constitution of Venezuela created the ‘Concejos
Comunales’ as a local entity organizing the people and
providing direct control over events. Tenths of thousands
such ‘Concejos Comunales’ have been created and are
increasingly protagonsitic.
 Concejos Comunales’ hace their own independent and
elected authorities and their own budgets and banks
 Several ‘Concejos Comunales’ may join in the form of
‘Comunas’, and this will have an impact on cities as well as
rural areas.
Cities of Latin America:
the legacy of the Capitalist system
 Over 100 years of capitalism has shaped the cities of Latin
America in several ways, apart from the obvious problems in the
social structure.
 It has become obvious that the private sector cannot resolve the
most fundamental problems in our cities: housing, transport and
the environment.
 ‘Marginal areas’ dominate the urban landscape (47% in Caracas)
with the unending chain of problems, severely affecting the
quality of life of mid and low income population
 The private sector concentrates on favourable market conditions,
usually in the periphery, promoting urban sprawl and cardependency, and a lack of equilibrium between work and
residence at all social levels.
Cities of Latin America:
the legacy of the Capitalist system
 In Venezuela this has resulted in a gigantic housing deficit. The
immediate deficit in the country is estimated about a million
dwellings, with 300,000 in Caracas only.
 Immediate deficit is the number of dwellings that are required to
replace those that face high risks in terms of flooding (seismic
risk is much larger)
 The demand grows at a rate of 2.1% approx.
 This means that the country should build at a rate of 200,000 a
year at least, while only 35,000 are being built by both public and
private sectors.
The XXI Century Socialist City
 The concept of a Socialist City is also not very well defined, but
new ideas are emerging to shape sustainable urban development.
 Emphasis is shifting from just physical sustainability towards
social sustainability in a much broader sense.
 The replacement of the price mechanisms that prevail in
capitalism must be replaced by planning and the direct action of
the government and communities
 The current trend towards urban sprawl is accompanied by the
decay of central areas that are left behind with low intensity of
occupation. The gap between places of work and services and
places of residence grows constantly. This increases the need for
transport, increasing congestion and pollution, with little hope
that new transportation facilities and increased capacity may be
built at the same rate.
The XXI Century Socialist City
 To revert this trend, the idea of urban renewal is coming back
after decades of negligence. This means that society must
recover the control over the urban structure, away from the
private sector.
 Urban renewal means that large portions of centrally located
parts of a city is re-built at a much higher intensity and
 Urban renewal can be much more efficient than large projects of
transport infrastructure
 Efficient public transport, such as BRT are also a policy with
good possibilities. Just like the market failed to solve the housing
problem, it also failed to solve the transportation problems.
Technologies to support the Socialist City
 ¿Qué relación tiene esto con la modelación integrada
de usos del suelo y transporte? Mucho. Este tipo de
herramienta analítica es precisamente la que debe ser
utilizada para evaluar las nuevas concepciones de
política urbana. Plantea un componente muy
importante en el debate acerca del SSXXI: cómo las
nuevas tecnologías hacen realista un socialismo que
antes fue utópico.

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