Caracas Housing Activists March Against Forced Evictions

Hundreds of Venezuelan housing activists descended on the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), this Tuesday, to demand an end to the forced evictions.
Protests march to the the Supreme Court in Caracas, to demand an end to evicions. (Silvia Leindecker)

Caracas, September 20, 2007 ( Hundreds of Venezuelan housing activists descended on the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), this Tuesday, to demand an end to the forced evictions.

The lively and vocal march, which ran from the Plaza Bolivar to the TSJ, was coordinated by the Zero Eviction Platform- a coalition of various Venezuelan pro-housing groups, such as the Venezuelan Renter's Network, the Network of Apartment Managers, the Urban Land Committees (CTU), Roofless Committee Foundation, the Venezuelan National Association of Free and Alternative Community Media (ANMCLA), among others.  

The march was part of an international campaign against forced evictions, coordinated through the International Alliance of Inhabitants.  As a result, various international housing activists from Uruguay, Peru, Argentina and the Caribbean, marched in solidarity.

"We believe that the only way that people can achieve things is to get out in the streets," said Eduardo Barrios, a housing activist from the Uruguayan Housing Coop Federation, FUCVAM, who is in Venezuela to share his experiences. "Today we are supporting our companions in their struggle for 'No Evictions,' because we believe that housing is a human right."

Activists in the march called for a moratorium against forced renter evictions, an end to housing speculation, and demanded "dignified housing and habitat."

The march came the day after judges returned back to the TSJ after recess.   

"In these days, when activity is reestablished in the tribunals after the judicial vacations, thousands of families shake with fear knowing that the re-initiation of terrorist judicial activities may leave them in the street without the right to defense, without guarantees and due process, nor a sense of equality," read the march's press release.
According to Andrés Antillano, a member of the Metropolitan Renters Network -As reported in El Universal- already 300 forced evictions have occurred this year alone in Caracas and with 6,000 eviction judges in metropolitan Caracas, approximately 70% of the decisions favor the real estate owners.   

"We are here to support the Constitutional Reform of the President and to call for an end to forced evictions," said Zaida Rodriguez, a member of Tuesday's march, who herself was evicted with her family from her apartment in Vista Alegre a few years ago. "It's sad when you are evicted…  they came in the middle of December and they could let us even celebrate the holidays.  The tribunal put us out on the street."

Rodriguez is now struggling for an expropriation of an apartment in the Caracas neighborhood of La Florida, which she hopes will be granted to her and her community soon.  

The housing situation in Caracas is going through growing pains, as legislation passed by the Metropolitan Mayor's office has called for the expropriation of some apartments when the renters have lived in the home for a pre-determined number of years. The legislation was an attempt to regularize the situation of Caracas housing, against the increasing evictions occurring to renters across the city.  However, out of fear that renters may attempt to expropriate their apartments, many landlords have pulled their properties from the market and are instead looking to sell.  As a result, apartment seekers in Venezuela's 5 million person capital city are finding it next to impossible to finding an apartment to rent.