NO TRESPASSING!by Anders Corr
While describing direct action, organizers can minimize the possibility of these negative consequences, knowing that participants avoid direct action for fear of bodily or economic harm. But as nonviolence trainings teach, those who know and come prepared for the worst of all possible outcomes develop a stronger commitment to their campaigns. In the long run, bonds of trust tie activists and organizers together in a way that enhances the strength of the activist organization. Frances Goldin, a longtime New York City housing activist, found honesty and a measure of pessimism important in her work.
We wanted to be honest, completely honest with tenants. No longer could we tell them that if they got together with other tenants in their building, they would overcome. That's just bullshit when the banks and real-estate oriented city and state agencies are all lined up against them. It's bullshit as long as corporate and absentee landlords walk off with the profits and leave them stranded in practically abandoned buildings.1
Because the eviction of squatters poses a formidable task, especially when a squatter settlement houses hundreds or thousands of people who have literally no other place to go, officials use ruthless tactics. On February 19, 1969, the Rhodesian government ordered 36 families in the Tangwena community to be relocated from their homes and fields to the relatively infertile Holdenby, Tribal Trust Lands. Chief Rekayi responded by pointing to government as the aggressor and refusing to capitulate. "I have not provoked the struggle," he said. "I do not want to fight, but I shall under no circumstances cooperate." In 1931, the Rhodesian Land Apportionment Act had relegated Africans to the most barren areas of the country and established the most fertile lands exclusively for Europeans. Between 1936 and 1959, the government evicted about 113,000 Africans. The Tangwena community resisted and endured this predecessor to what is now called "ethnic cleansing."
Seven months after the eviction notice, officials arrested Rekayi and then those who demanded his release, bulldozed 11 huts, and confiscated property. Most of the village fled into the mountains. About three weeks later, officials destroyed much more property and chased residents into the hills again, this time with helicopters and dogs. Residents eventually returned, but officials again burned their buts down. The next year, many were fined, beaten, and jailed for 30 days. The government impounded and then sold the community's cows.
With this sort of repression, thousands chose to hide in the hills yet again, but living in the wilderness took its toll. Rugged conditions caused one boy to die of pneumonia, so parents returned 157 of the smaller children to the village.2
In less than four years, the Tangwena experienced six violent evictions. Communities throughout the world have, like the Tangwena, endured repeated evictions. And, like the Tangwena, they have demonstrated that despite violence, imprisonment, and multiple evictions, a resilient and united community can endure multiple trials. But the varieties of repression they have faced are as numerous and sickeningly creative as the number of landlords and enforcement agencies.
Because of social movement resilience, landlords sometimes combat land occupations through a more covert and surgical use of violence than experienced by the Tangwena community. According to the Pastoral Land Commission of the Brazilian Catholic Church, over 1,684 Brazilian rural workers were assassinated between 1964 and 1992.3 Assassination is especially common in Latin America, where cash crop landowners and landless peasants suffering from malnutrition compete with greater ferocity and frequency than anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, landlords and government in Latin America usually reserve assassination as the culmination to many attempts at repression. A Salvadoran named Susana explains the occupation in which she took part:
In the first place, we asked for a salary rise, a reduction in land rents and more fertile land. We went on strike in support of our demands but nothing came of it. So we decided to occupy some unused land owned by the big landowner of our region. We worked very hard in the fields for about four months. We cultivated maize and water melons, and the crops were just about ripe when the army came one night without warning and destroyed everything. They captured all the leaders. They didn't find my husband at home but I was there and they beat me terribly. They even put a rifle in my mouth and threatened to kill me. They tied me up, ransacked the house and bumf our grain store. They killed an enormous number of people that night because nearly the whole canton had joined [the occupation]. The repression there became well known. Four days later, Monsignor Romero came to visit us. He held a special mass and gave me and another woman some money so we could go to see a doctor because we had both been so badly beaten. We had to move into the capital afterwards, because we feared they would come back to look for my husband and I began to suffer from my nerves, thinking about all I had seen. They killed my husband in the end, in 1982. He was found near Aguilares, naked, nothing but his body. We never found his head. Soon afterwards I had to leave the country.4
While this repression occurred in the context of a civil war, the trajectory of Susana's experience shares characteristics with many land struggles. As in Tacamiche, Susana's community occupied land midway through a difficult labor strike to provide themselves with food. In response, and to exact maximum punishment, the army destroyed the crops right before harvest.
The army also murdered many people, and most of those they did not murder, they beat and threatened with death. Land and housing movements that face the death of participants have prepared themselves for this possibility. Elvia Alvarado of Honduras, who witnessed the deaths of several rural activists and received death threats, probably originating from the Honduran secret police, writes of the extreme emotional pain she felt: "We all feel a great loss when someone we love dies. When the four campesinos died in the land recuperation, I cried and cried. And when an older person dies, someone you've been close to all your life, of course it hurts. It hurts a lot."5
Because of this heavy repression, peasants sometimes attempt to remove conflict from the location of community members. They reason that if they travel to a capital or large urban area away from their community, the action poses less risk for those back home. Even in these cases, however, governments have inflicted collective punishment. In March 1980, Paraguayan peasants from a community of 200 families chose a desperate course of action. The landowner had used connections with a government agency to "misplace" land documents that would have barred him from evicting the community. With two revolvers and a rifle, 22 of the campesinos hijacked a bus and demanded passage to the capital. "We are farmers who have been driven from our land," they told passengers. The police blocked the path of the bus and killed 13 of the peasants as they fled into the~hills. Back in their community, the landowner arrived with truckloads of military police. These police beat villagers, destroyed huts and crops, and jailed all males in the community over 15 years old. The civil militia then arrived, raped many of the women, and looted the village. The police jailed 250 peasants in neighboring regions.
As in Paraguay, a widespread method of repression used against some movements is mass imprisonment. The government of India broke the record in 1970 when it arrested 20,000 landless peasants and agricultural laborers who participated in a massive occupation of 6,100 hectares of unused government and private land.6 As Mahatma Gandhi suggested, such mass imprisonment is particularly unsustainable for governments because it requires a substantial budget to hire prison guards and provide food. Also, government officials must make the choice between freeing other regular prisoners (thus losing some power in deterring common crimes) and constructing temporary holding facilities with additional public expenditure. For these reasons, mass imprisonment often turns public opinion against the government.
Because of public opinion, governments and landlords have tried to use forms of repression that mask their own involvement, whether through vigilantes, death squads, or low-intensity coercion, such as denying food aid or agricultural outreach services. On May 27, 1989, 200 families occupied U.S. Navy land on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and built makeshift shelters of plywood and plastic. Through the summer and early fall of 1989, the government decided not to evict the squatters because of the delicate political situation created by the presence of the base. In the confusion following Hurricane Hugo, however, the Navy erected a wall to bar the squatters from their destroyed shacks. Hugo not only destroyed the settlement, but also diverted media attention. To much of the public, Hurricane Hugo, not the U.S. Navy, seemed the main culprit.7 While the Navy ejected squatters who attempted to rebuild their community, the national media was focusing on the wreckage of nearby towns.
Again and again, throughout the world, land and housing struggles have faced terrible repercussions. Because even severe violence rarely stops large national squatter campaigns completely, governments have also tried the divide-andconquer technique. The government announces that it will legalize present squatter settlements and outlaw any future squatter settlements. In 1973, the Puerto Rican government legalized all settlements squatted prior to January 18 of that year. It threatened, however, to evict new squatters immediately. This legalization aimed to divide present from future squatters, but squatting continued. Between 1973 and 1975, at least 17,000 more families took land. In 1976, government officials used stronger anti-squatter laws and court decisions to evict five spontaneous occupations. The well-publicized evictions seemed to chill the creation of new settlements by mass invasions, but during the rest of the '70s, new squatters individually joined existing settlements. People must have a place to live. A real estate system that allows for landlessness and homelessness guarantees unrest by the most economically marginal. Given landlessness, the best a government can hope to do is direct the flow of squatters onto less valuable land.At times, the level of repression exceeds the resources of a community. In these cases, the community at least provisionally surrenders to the will of the government and landowners, whether that means community dispersion, low wages, high rents, or heavy share-cropping burdens. In one instance, however, an entire village of indigenous Kaiowa families in Brazil threatened mass suicide. The conflict started when a rancher from the city of Sao Paulo displaced the 250-person indigenous community of Jaguapire three times in five years over a title dispute that left the village with only a third of its federally guaranteed land. In November 1993, local farmers at the behest of a large Sao Paulo landowner invaded the community, forced people into trucks, and dumped them at the side of a highway. Many Kaiowa eventually lived at that spot in plastic tents and suffered from starvation. Their companions at the village told a visiting delegation that the Kaiowa planned to defend the land with shotguns and spears if the court ordered them to move again. If these efforts were to fail, however, the companions revealed religious structures in which almost the entire community, including 22 tribal leaders from neighboring villages and encampments, had pledged to commit suicide. Between 1991 and 1994, 120 Kaiowa killed themselves, following traditional custom. "We're tired of being threatened," said the chief of Jaguapire, Rosalindo Ximenes Guarani. "We can't take care of our crops because at any moment we may be expelled by the police. Therefore, we prefer to die, rather than give up our land."8
Repression in the United States: Native AmericansIndigenous participants in Northern land struggles have also faced imprisonment and death. At the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota alone, activists endured 500 trials between 1973 and 1976. Most of the original leadership of the American Indian Movement (AIM) was imprisoned or exiled. At least 342 members of AIM sustained serious physical assault, and 69 were killed.9 Pine Ridge assaults included rapes and at least two children wounded by gunshot.10
Vigilantes supplement the repression that governments use against land and housing activists. One can especially expect vigilantism during long struggles or when a government has communicated that it does not intend to enforce property laws. From 1974 until 1977, snipers repeatedly fired on a group of Mohawk occupiers at Ganienkeh in New York State.
In several shooting incidents, according to Iroquois spokesmen, women doing laundry by Moss Lake and children swimming were pinned down, not by an occasional shot from a passing car, but by intense firing from fixed positions.11
A major attack by conventional police or military forces can legitimize repression in the minds of vigilantes. If occupiers are left unprotected following such an attack and the media is absent, these vigilantes can emerge from the woodwork and take advantage of an isolated campaign. In 1970, several dozen Puyallup Indians and their supporters erected a campsite near the Puyallup River from which they proceeded to assert their fishing rights against state regulations. On September 9, over 200 police stormed the camp with tear gas and clubs, beat and dragged people, some by their hair, and arrested 60, including five children. The police then bulldozed cars, teepees, and other personal property; smashed windows; and slashed the tires of nearly all vehicles at the camp. After the police action, hundreds of white vigilantes raided other Puyallup fishing camps, sunk Indian boats, stole and destroyed nets, and took pot-shots at Indians. A half-year later, on January 19, 1971, two white vigilantes approached Hank Adams, a leader of the fishing struggle, while he tended his fishing nets. They shot him point-blank in the stomach.12 Repression of Native American land struggle continues unabated even in the last decade of the 20th century. A September 1990 offensive by Canadian troops against a road blockade on a Kahnawake reservation hospitalized 75 Mohawks.13 Native Americans have experienced the brunt of repression in the United States, a fact that may be explained by their strong vulnerability to racism, their militant demonstration tactics, the degree to which they effectively threaten elite economic and cultural power, and the unwillingness of institutional and established political groups to extend them sufficient support.
Other U.S. Repression: People's Park, Tompkins Square, and Rent StrikesAlthough to a much lesser extent than against Native Americans, the U.S. government has used violence against white activists, as well. A major conflict over development has simmered in Berkeley since 1969, when the University of California used eminent domain to purchase at lower than market-value and then demolish an entire block of houses behind the 2400 block of Telegraph Avenue. Officially, the university claimed it needed the space for a new sports field. Neighborhood activists questioned the truth of this statement, however, and suggested that the university really wanted to eliminate inexpensive housing used by a politicized and countercultural community of leftists.
On April 20, 1969, about 200 people occupied the gutted lot, from which they created "People's Park." After three weeks of community-directed gardening and cultural activity, Berkeley police evicted a 50-person camp and built a cyclone fence on May 15. Enraged demonstrators responded by opening a fire hydrant and pelting police with rocks and bottles. The police escalated the conflict with gunfire and tear gas. They killed one young man with gunshot, inflicted a 20-stitch bayonet wound into the forearm of a 12-year old child, wounded at least 100, and arrested more than 700.14
Activists sustained their presence at People's Park during the '70s and '80s, but the university doggedly made attempts to recover gradually and develop the valuable downtown property. On July 27, 1991, riots flared once again when the university constructed a volleyball court in an attempt to capture a beachhead at the park. A crowd of 1,000 faced police who used helicopters, tear gas, motorcycles, and clubs. Demonstrators retaliated by breaking windows on Telegraph Avenue and smashing police car windows. On August 1, after six days of sporadic rioting, the police suppressed demonstrators with rubber and wooden bullets.15
Urban parks, one of the last forms of commons remaining on the rapidly privatizing landscape of the 20th century, are flashpoints of struggle for the increasing number of poor people who defend these green havens from encroaching gentrification and the value real estate agents place on sterile cleanliness. On the Lower East Side of New York City, several struggles over land use and gentrification have erupted at Tompkins Square Park, one of the last non-institutional places in New York City for homeless persons to sleep at night. On August 8, 1988, 450 mounted police and a helicopter attacked 500 squatters, punks, homeless people, and supporters engaged in a demonstration against the curfew law for Tompkins Square Park. Many demonstrators retaliated with bottles and stones. Fifty-two people, including 14 police, were treated at hospitals, and nearly twice that many received minor injuries. One participant, who received a sprained arm and stitches in his lip, told the Guardian, "They had already cleared out the park with sticks, and they just all of a sudden stampeded. I stepped into a phone booth and they came up. There were five of them. They hit me in the groin and they just kept hitting me. I still can't walk straight."16 Shortly thereafter, the department of parks erected a chainlink fence around the square, only allowing renters or property owners, not homeless people or squatters who had lived there for years, to use the park.
Squatting and land occupations more often face repression than do rent strikes. Repression for rent strikers would mean eviction, which is more assiduously avoided by people who have the resources to rent a home. Nevertheless, exceptions occur when landlords impose unreasonable conditions and tenants are particularly organized. New York City tenants of Anderson Equities Company at 1197 Anderson Avenue faced landlord abandonment in 1970. The landlord refused to provide heat and hot water, workable elevators, or a watertight roof, and the city recorded 151 housing violations at the address. After three months of withholding rent, the tenants decided to use their escrow account to repair the elevator, roof, boiler, plumbing, and doors. When tenants completed the repairs (and thus made their strike money accessible in the form of improvements), the East New York Savings Bank took the property from the landlord with a lien and ordered evictions. The tenants refused to vacate. On April 7, 1972, police armed with machine guns, shotguns, shields, and helmets used tear gas and gunfire to force tenants, including women with infants, out of the building. The police arrested all of the tenants, five of whom the district attorney later singled out to face multiple charges.17
Repression falls heaviest on the poor, people of color, women, the landless, and those who live in Third World squatter settlements. In addition to outright discrimination, this is because such groups are in greater need of land and housing and are closer to debilitating poverty than other more affluent sectors of society. Desperation leads poor people to more sustained resistance and greater risks than are acceptable to other groups who might have better alternatives.
Repression in International ContextNot only landowners and governments have a stake in repressing land and housing campaigns. International investors have similar interests, as became clear for the Tacamiches in Honduras when the U.S. ambassador and the Honduran media began linking the eviction of Tacamiche to creating a business atmosphere conducive to foreign investment. Competition among Third World states for foreign investment tends to guarantee the repression of squatter movements in these regions, even by the most sympathetic or revolutionary of governments. When leftist governments ignore the concerns of their wealthy constituents, for example, by turning a blind eye to rent strikers and squatters, they often get deposed. International interests combine with local elites to plan coups or revolutions from within. It takes more than leniency toward squatters to create the conditions necessary for right-wing forces to depose a government, but it usually plays a role.18
In one of the most famous examples of the international guarantee of repression, the leftist government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala legalized some peasant land occupations during the early 1950s. He set legal limits on the amount of land that a single person could own and empowered campesino unions to enforce the laws by takeover. In 1954, when this law freed 152,000 hectares of United Fruit's total land area of 90,000,000 hectares, President Eisenhower authorized a CIA-backed invasion force of mercenaries who overthrew the Arbenz government and ended its land reform program.
A similar end befell the leftist government of President Joao Goulart in Brazil. In the northeast the Peasant League, led by Francisco Juliao, staged extensive land occupations between 1963 and 1964. A threatened railway strike lent credence to Goulart's attempt to help some of these occupiers gain land under a new agrarian reform law. But the United States saw Juliao as the most dangerous leader in the region and the Peasant League as a potential guerrilla threat, and local landowners feared a general upheaval. These factors, among many others, led to a CIA-backed coup in April 1964 that installed a right-wing dictator who exiled Juliao and brutally suppressed the Peasant League.19
The overthrow of Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government of Chile in 1973 also sprang from several of his socialist policies, including his refusal to repress land occupations vigorously. Even though President Allende ostensibly discouraged land occupations in speeches and evicted a few settlements, he ignored far more. News of his lenience multiplied occupations from seven in 1965, before his election, to 456 in 1970, when he was elected,20 and to 1,278 occupations in just four provinces of south-central Chile in 1971. Prior to the Allende government, peasants and Indians had occupied land for small concessions, such as better salaries and benefits. After he gained power, the landless organized occupations aimed at direct expropriation and often were successful.21 In addition, Allende used land reform laws to expropriate many large landed estates, including a 1.4 million-hectare sheep farm, the world's largest. Because of these and other wellknown infractions against local and international property owners by the Popular Unity government, the United States outfitted Pinochet's military to overthrow Allende in a 1973 coup.22
Thus, even when governments might condone occupations and the redistribution of land, such support is risky, given the prospect of overthrow by a coalition of local elites and foreign interests. This makes even the threat of a coup or military action sufficient to influence a leftist government to repress land movements.
Mexican Squatters of the 1970sIn Mexico, the government repressed land occupations in the '70s after rumors of a right-wing coup circulated. The repressed occupations had roots in the late '60s, when conservative President Diaz Ordaz declared the termination of land reform at a time of severe agricultural crisis.
Having no legal recourse, and after a period of dormancy, peasants occupied lands and involved themselves in guerrilla warfare during the presidency of Luis Echeverria in the '70s. Spontaneous groups, independent unions, and collectives, often against the wishes of more established campesino unions, formed to occupy landed estates belonging to large growers.23 In July 1972, hundreds of peasants invaded land belonging to several haciendas in Tlaxcalla, and 400 peasants, in coalition with students, took 2,100 hectares to establish the Campamento Emiliano Zapata, named after the famous Mexican revolutionary who demanded land with the battle cry Tierra y Libertad (Land and Freedom). In December, 1,000 marching peasants demanded official action on their land claims, then occupied ten latifundia in Tepeaca, Atlixco, and Tecamachalco. Under mounting rural pressure, the government took title to some big farms in northwest Mexico, assigned them to campesinos, and legalized some urban squatter settlements. Echeverrìa strengthened agrarian reform laws, increased rural expenditure from 10% of the national budget in 1970 to 20% in 1975, and began nominal support of the embattled ejido system,24 which previous administrations had actively attacked.
Though a definite improvement, Echeverrìa's reforms failed to address adequately landlessness and poverty in the countryside. Over half of all Mexicans employed in agriculture remained landless, less than 1% of arable farms used 30% of all arable land, and in Sinaloa and Sonora, ejidatarios rented from 40-80% of their land to large agribusiness. Though officials at the Institute of Agrarian Reform received petitions from the landless to redistribute 66,000 parcels of land, officials took very little action.
Encouraged by Echeverìa's initial reforms, in 1975 peasants throughout Mexico occupied tens of thousands more hectares in Zacatecas, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Chiapas, Tamaulipas, Sonora, Nuevo Leon, and Oaxaca. Seventy-six occupations took place in Sinaloa alone, where just 85 rich families owned nearly one-quarter of the irrigated land and 126,000 farmworkers were landless.25 In another region, nearly 300 armed peasants seized 310 hectares to begin communal farming near Ensenada, only 40 miles from the U.S. border, a prime beachfront resort favored by American tourists.26
In 1976, land occupations and political turbulence increased further. Nine thousand peasants organized in 130 groups took over 100,000 hectares spanning eight municipalities, including Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Baja California.
To prevent repression, some of the occupiers took hostages as well as land. In the Yaqui Valley, they kidnapped the regional representative of the land reform commission when he appeared for negotiations. A peasant spokesperson said his group decided on the kidnapping as an act of "self-defense because of the repressive brutality of the army and police, as manifested at San Antonio Rio Muerte," where troops murdered six peasants while attempting to retake occupied land on October 24, 1975.27
To appease this growing unrest, President Echeverrfa again attempted reform. He ordered the expropriation (with compensation) of 100,000 hectares on November 18, 1976. Echeverrfa intended to distribute most of this land to those already in occupation. With a new-found mantle of government acceptance, though, occupations accelerated, especially on lands the president had mentioned.
That month, however, voters elected a new conservative president. The days of transition between presidents seemed the last chance for the peasant organizations to take land. Campesinos in Durango occupied 260,000 hectares on November 28. Tens of thousands more occupied over 400,000 hectares of land as Jose Lopez Portillo prepared to take the presidency on December 1. Agrarian reform official Morales Mora estimated that 10,000 families, consisting of 50,000 to 60,000 persons, squatted the land during this period.28
The political atmosphere, needless to say, became highly volatile. Pressure among the middle and upper classes mounted against government tolerance toward the occupations. Landowners and financiers responded to Echeverna's sympathy for the landless by staging an employee lock-out in 50 cities, blockading roads with farm equipment, and transferring hundreds of millions of dollars to banks in the United States. Some threatened violence, and, for the first time in years, Mexicans talked seriously about the possibility of a military coup. "Many people are ready to put their finger to the trigger," one grower warned.29 James K. Wilson, an Arizona businessman with heavy landed interests in Mexico, said the big landowners "aren't going to have their lands taken away without making a stand."30
With this increasing threat from property owners, a federal court overturned the expropriation law on December 7, forcing the removal of 8,000 peasants from 1 million hectares of occupied land. Even with this repression, however, land occupations on the scale of Mexico in the '70s usually succeed in at least some permanent redistribution. Though the private landowner paramilitaries, Mexican police, and Mexican army used brutal measures to repress occupations (killing over 120 peasants between 1975 and 1976), the occupations permanently redistributed 12,000 hectares in Sinaloa and 37,000 hectares in Sonora. This relatively small amount of land did little to alleviate the massive need; but, if nothing else, campesinos during the mid-'70s tested their tremendous political strength against that of landowners, business, and government, and walked away with at least a few concrete successes.31
Rather than bring a country to the brink of revolution or civil war, as in Mexico, most governments immediately repress nascent land and housing occupations as part of their courtship of foreign capital. This is especially evident whenever international attention might be focused on a region. At these times, governments have repressed squatter movements prior to large events to present an unblemished landscape to international audiences. The government of the Philippines demolished the houses of 100,000 squatters along the Miss UniveTSe parade route in 1974 and demolished the houses of 65,000 more in 1976 to prepare for an IMF/World Bank conference.32 Governments desperately court international investors, and any international attention to squalid conditions or social movements that threaten property can give investors cold feet. In the race to repay foreign debts and gain hard currency for the purchase of luxury imports, Third World governments go to almost any length to present the image of being a secure place for investments.
Revolutions that Evict Squatters: Portugal and NicaraguaWhen a revolution completely alters the government, this does not necessarily nullify the power of foreign interests and local property holders. Foreign interests that have existing investments in a country will want to ensure the security of those investments even after a revolution. As in the cases of Guatemala and Chile, if a revolutionary government falls to provide that security, foreign governments and businesses can encourage military aid to counter-revolutionaries. Small- and mediumsized property holders may provide popular support to this counterrevolution.
Appeasing these sectors is uppermost in the minds of revolutionary governments when they evict squatters. In 1974, a group of left-wing officers startled the world by orchestrating a coup in Portugal. According to Nancy Gina Bermeo, author of The Revolution Within the Revolution, the new left-wing government (called the "fourth provisional government") "feared - quite rightly - that the spontaneous seizure of property would panic small- and medium-sized farmers and drive them into the ranks of reactionaries." In its land reform proclamation, the fourth provisional government announced, "From this moment on, land occupations will no longer be tolerated, as they are damaging to the agrarian reform and therefore reactionary."
The government, however, did not have the power actually to stop or evict the occupations. According to Bermeo, the government "could not pay the high political price of putting them to an end," given the extraordinary strength of the cooperative associations involved in previous land occupations. In addition, many in the army lent the occupations active support, including the leader of the powerful internal police, leftist Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho.33
In response to the military support of occupations, large landowners organized the Confederation of Portuguese Farmers (CAP). "Citizens' militias" openly affiliated with CAP blockaded roads with huge and militant demonstrations of up to 25,000 people and inundated the local and international press with bold press releases that included complaints against land occupations and veiled threats of a counter-coup.34
The day after the 25,000-person CAP demonstration, rightists within the military arrested about 100 far-left officers, including the much beloved "Otelo." Without military support, the land occupations came to a halt in less than two weeks.35 The Portuguese governments that followed were increasingly hostile to the land occupations and their cooperative structure, partly because they were actively courting loans from West Germany, the European Economic Community, and the United States. Western economic powers made these loans contingent upon, among other things, the return of land to former owners.
In November 1976, Antonio Barreto took power as the first CAP-approved president. Within a year, he added several loopholes to the land reform law, putting at least some portion of the land of most cooperatives in jeopardy of re-expropriation. By January 1981, riot police (with orders to shoot to kill any resistors) had returned farm equipment, livestock, and 569,000 hectares of the most valuable land to private hands.36
The Portuguese land occupations did maintain some gains, however. Bermeo wrote in 1986 that "The loss of land, livestock, and machinery is a crippling blow. But both government officials and union leaders estimate that at least onethird to one-half of the original cooperatives will survive."37
In Nicaragua, as in post-coup Portugal, the revolutionary government generally opposed land occupations. Even before they overthrew right-wing President Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979, the Sandinistas promised not to confiscate the land of supportive landowners. When peasants occupied land, writes Joseph Collins of Food First,
Sandinistas worked to ensure that farms around Leon belonging to landowners aiding in the fight against Somoza were not taken over ....To a truly remarkable extent, the Sandinista Front succeeded in using its moral authority with the campesinos and landless agricultural workers to restrain their wrath against landowners, including the Somocistas, and to await due process.38
Full support of land occupations, the Sandinistas reasoned, might have pushed the quiescent sector of landowners into aiding Somoza or, after the Sandinista victory, helping the Contras (U.S.-supported counter-revolutionaries). "To resist any U.S. destabilization pressures," writes Collins, "the Sandinistas knew they had to do everything within reason to build support among all social classes for the future of the revolution."39 When President Ronald Reagan's pugnacity replaced Jimmy Carter's policy of coexistence with Nicaragua, many of Nicaragua's big growers began to employ direct sabotage. The need to maintain internal stability became paramount for the Sandinista government,40 which also feared that Reagan might impose an embargo (which later took place) or even invade Nicaragua.
Not paying the foreign debt contracted by Somoza would increase the chances of such punitive international actions. To repay the debt and also buy food, medicine, oil, machinery, and imported luxuries (to pacify the remaining Nicaraguan upper class), the Sandinistas needed to grow export crops exchangeable for foreign currency. "While `Land to whoever works it!' might have been an effective rallying cry during the war of liberation," writes Collins, "it got quietly buried once the victorious leadership had to confront the urgent need to get the capitalist farmers and ranchers controlling most of the country's exports back into production."
During the first land reform, in July 1979, the Sandinistas resisted popular land occupations meant to divide the large export-oriented farms formerly owned by Somocistas into small, subsistence farms. Instead, the Sandinistas assumed control of these lucrative assets. About 20% of the nation's agricultural land became state farms; 65% stayed in the hands of large landowners. Campesinos controlled only 15% of the nation's farmland after the first land reform - about the same as during Somoza's regime.41
To grow export crops, the Sandinistas had to attract wage labor, which meant keeping a certain number of peasants landless. For this reason also, Sandinistas opposed land occupations. If all the peasants occupied land and became small private farmers, the big farms would have no cheap labor. Because small farming of food crops produced a higher standard of living for the small farmer compared to wage labor in the export sector under both Somoza and the Sandinistas, both governments had to bar a significant portion of landless laborers from becoming campesinos, even though capitalist and state farms had excess land.
Because of increasing agitation and rural disillusionment with the revolution (30,000 protesters marched in 1980, and land occupations increased in the following years),42 however, the Sandinistas instituted a second land reform program in August 1981. As officials realized the inefficiencies of state farms, they granted land in this and future land reforms to worker-owned cooperatives. By the start of 1986, 60% of the nation's campesinos had received land titles to more than 1.8 million hectares, or onethird of the nation's farmland. Before the revolution, all of the nation's poor had owned a total of less than 120,000 hectares.43
The Sandinistas won the revolution, instituted a land reform that made land holdings more egalitarian, and protected, to some extent, land occupations. Even though the Sandinistas took power, however, the former large landowners, remnants of the Somoza regime, and foreign governments continued indirectly to repress land occupiers and land reform beneficiaries by financing and training the Contras. In 1983 alone, the Contras killed 811 farmworkers and campesinos and spread fear by rape and torture.44 To devastate squatters and land reform beneficiaries economically, the Contras destroyed crops, buildings, and machinery.45
Because of this repression, according to Collins, "some families [were] afraid to join cooperatives or even to receive land through the agrarian reform."46 By 1984, more than 120,000 peasants in the war zones had fled Contra raids, abandoning their homes and fields.47 Eventually, under such pressure, a bare majority of the Nicaraguan electorate voted for U.S.-supported candidate Violets Chamorro, who opposed land reform.
Revolutionary governments faced with peasant land occupations must balance their desire to implement land reforms against the possibility of inflaming a counterrevolution among local elites and international investors. Communists during the Spanish Civil War, Allende in Chile, Echeverria in Mexico, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the fourth provisional government in Portugal after the 1974 revolution all chose to evict some peasant land occupations and deploy deterrents against others.
While these evictions seem justified to some extent, given international and local pressures, all of the governments noted above were eventually defeated, overthrown, or voted out of office. After their fall, the new governments usually reversed the land reforms and evicted many, if not most, of the land occupiers. Immediately following the coups against Arbenz and Allende, former owners of expropriated lands initiated counterreforms that returned practically all lands, reinstituted feudal share-cropping in Guatemala, and reduced the Chilean reform sector from 39% of total agricultural land area in 1973 to 9% in 1975.48
The same has happened with capitalist incursions into other former socialist countries. Threatened with loosing foreign aid from the United States and loans from the World Bank, the Chamorro government in Nicaragua began expropriating land from families who had benefited from Sandinista agrarian reform. In June 1992, the new Nicaraguan security forces (many of them ex-Contras) violently evicted inhabitants of 21 farms slated for return to former owners, 11 of which went to family members of Somoza.49 By 1995, 3,000 claims by former landowners remained unresolved, one-third of them filed by members of the Somoza family or their supporters. The claims included a quarter of Nicaragua's arable land, upon which 170,000 families had settled, most of them impoverished squatters and war refugees to whom the Sandinista government had promised land titles.50 Chamorro also violated the truce agreed to by Sumo Indians and the Sandinistas after the Indians waged a guerrilla war in the 1980s to protect their tropical forests from commercial incursions. Chamorro gave foreign companies lucrative concessions to log 62,000 hectares of that forest in March 1996, more than half of which is in the Sumo reserve.51
Arnoldo Alemàn, who won the Nicaraguan presidency in October 1996, has promised to repossess land from those who benefited from Sandinista reforms at an even quicker rate. Aleman still smarts at the confiscation of his own property by the Sandinista government in 1989. He led landowner associations that opposed land occupations during Sandinista rule and denounced Chamorro as running a co-government with the Sandinistas because he considered her counter-reforms insufficiently zealous.52
Fear and the Deactivation of MovementsThe counter-reforms in Nicaragua and other post-socialist Latin American nations are implemented under threat of repression. Through the use of repression, landlords and government officials hope to dissuade land and housing activists from taking direct action. Often the repression required to deactivate a movement is very small. With a minimum of force and by this principle, the British government ended one of the largest rent strikes in history, against the Housing Finance Act (HFA) of 1972. The HFA brought all public housing in England and Wales to market rates by de-subsidizing rents. It mandated rent increases of up to 100% for every unit. Initially local Labour Party councilors refused to implement the act, but politicians buckled shortly after the national government threatened them with fines.
Led by decentralized and relatively independent tenants' associations, 100,000 public housing tenants continued the struggle by refusing to pay the increases, while some even staged a "total rent strike" (refusal to pay any rent at all). Ancillary tactics included the publication of broadsheets, the staging of demonstrations, and the blocking of roads. When ordered to appear in court, strikers scrawled "on rent strike" or "we won't pay" on subpoenas and returned them to the court en masse.53 At one demonstration, tenants used the tactic of humiliation. Television cameras filmed 3,000 marchers spitting on the names of 31 politicians responsible for implementing the increase.
In response to these tactics, government officials targeted organizers and those on total rent strike. The government threw some in jail, coopted tenant leaders by incorporating them into local Labour Parties, initiated court proceedings, seized furniture, garnished wages, evicted tenants, and forcefully ejected tenants from government meetings.54 Although tenants organized warning systems, antieviction committees, and mobile pickets to blockade evictions, they rarely brought such tactics to bear when actual evictions took place.
Thus the government managed the situation predominantly by threat rather than actual force, effectively intimidating tenants into abandoning risky tactics against eviction. When the government went beyond court orders to make eviction seem imminent, most tenants paid the increases and arrears. In the end, the mere threat of repression succeeded in squelching the rent strikes against the HFA. The law remained unchanged, and rent increases took effects.55
When not completely ending a movement, as in the English rent strike above, repression can steer it toward less confrontational tactics. Participant Art Goldberg analyzed the emergence of pacifism during the Berkeley People's Park protests in 1969.
The willingness of the police to shoot at people has for the most part forced demonstrators to deescalate their tactics. Few rocks have been thrown since "Bloody Thursday," May 15. Almost no windows have been broken, and not many barricades have been erected. Nonviolence has not been a conscious tactic, but one which evolved on the streets.56
People's park activists remained active two weeks after "Bloody Thursday," organizing a nonviolent demonstration of 25,000 to 30,000. According to Todd Gitlin, "A small minority of radicals wanted to tear down the fence with their bare hands; the Guard wouldn't shoot - or would they? The balloons, the nervous festivity, reminded the militants of a funeral procession. They saw May 30 as the day they lost control to liberals and pacifists."57 This nonviolence seemed to work, coupled with some riots in the '90s: People's Park is still green almost 30 years later.
Though nonviolent demonstration in liberal democracies rarely brings violent repression, pacifists in developing nations have not enjoyed such privilege. In April 1984, Saul Mkize, the leader of Driefontein, a South African community resisting eviction, was shot and killed. Although people attended more meetings afterwards, according to a local lawyer, "if it came down to passive resistance, people would be scared that they would be shot."58 In the case of Driefontein, the assassination strengthened an underground network, but stifled public expressions of dissent.
Deactivation does not necessarily require an assassination; subduing a campaign can be done by mere suggestion. In Santiago de Chile, the city-wide Committee of the Homeless organized the Manuel Rodriguez squatter settlement in 1969. Because of their success in resisting removal, by 1975 the government began helping residents improve the settlement. The population remained small, however, probably because of the potential threat of dictator Augusto Pinochet's housing officials, who called for evictions and the construction of high-rise buildings on the land. A mere credible threat of eviction deterred the settlement's growth.
But anytime that obvious squatting, land occupations, or radical political activity appears to be repressed, smaller and less detectable measures are probably taking place. In his book Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Fonns of Peasant Resistance, James Scott details his experiences living for several years in a small Malaysian rice-growing village. Over time, the other members of his village community, many of them landless, confided in Scott their methods of resisting landlords and the combine harvesters that replaced their labor. These included not the overt political acts of land occupation and squatting, but the more subtle and apparently depoliticized tactics of "foot dragging, dissimulation, desertion, false compliance, pilfering, feigned ignorance, slander, arson, and sabotage."59 Thus, even when peasants do not have the power or organization to combat landlords overtly, when landlords have repressed popular peasant movements, a close study of peasant communities will nonetheless find an active subterranean culture of both material and ideological resistance.60
Reinvigoration of StruggleA widely recognized symbol for squatting in Europe and North America is a lightning-shaped arrow through a circle. One sees this symbol painted in murals on the sides of squats in Berlin, as the central motif of many emblems adopted by squatters'-aid groups, in squatter comics, and generally in any place in the North where squatters congregate. The symbol originated long ago with hobos, who assigned to it the meaning "continue on" or "safe haven ahead." Squatters in the Netherlands borrowed the symbol during the 1970s when faced with persistent evictions. "'This fearless preparation for the unknown," writes an Amsterdam squatter, "kept alive that rage which made a motley group of neighborhoods, houses, and individuals `the collected Amsterdam squat groups.' As a sign that they would `go on' to the bitter end, the circle with the arrow borrowed from hobo language was elevated to the squatting symbol."61
For squatting, a predominantly nonviolent method of struggle, the hidden "continue on" meaning of the hobo symbol has particular importance. When repression becomes intense, the most common strategy for achieving success in land and housing struggles is to "continue on" with all nonviolent resources at hand, including increased media outreach, lobbying, demonstrations, leafleting, boycotts, sympathy strikes by labor allies, hiding in the hills, and, most importantly, continued squatting, land occupation, or rent strike. "Faced with repression," writes nonviolence strategist Gene Sharp in his three-volume Politics of Nonviolent Action, "nonviolent actionists have only one acceptable response: to overcome they must persist in their action and refuse to submit or retreat .... Without willingness to face repression as the price of struggle, the nonviolent action movement cannot hope to succeed."62 Such continuing struggle in the face of repression has proven an extremely effective tactic for gaining public sympathy and ultimately for gaining land and housing concessions.
While repression can dampen and even end a movement, it can also sow the seeds of future struggle or strengthen the movement it meant to destroy. Repression tends to inflame any already existing sense of injustice and spurs a feeling of righteous indignation. As a particularly painful ordeal, repressive incidents can bring into stark focus a previously obscured adversary, cementing solidarity between activists and those previously uninvolved. During a Bronx rent strike in 1971, an organizer confronted two men illegally serving eviction notices to tenants. They broke her nose and dragged her outside to their automobile, where they claimed she was under "arrest." After other tenants challenged their authority, the thugs released the organizer and sped away. Before the attack, only half the tenants had pledged themselves to strike; shortly after, all the tenants joined.63
In the most extreme of situations, even the killing of participants can strengthen a land movement's resolve. In 1973 and 1974, the Regional Indian Council of Cauca (CRIC) in Colombia organized land occupations and held mass marches from forests and highland regions to urban areas. In response, local landowners and politicians assassinated the agrarian leader Gustavo Mejiea Gonzalez and the Indian leader Venancio Taquinaz, slaughtered peasants, evicted people from the land (some subsequently died of malnutrition), blacklisted employees, and threatened jail and death to those CRIC members who remained. Activist commitment only increased after the repression, and the communities developed a vigorous campaign to build public pressure against the violence. In a March 1974 demonstration against the deaths, people called for continued struggle. "If they kill one of us," a placard read, "one hundred more will be born. They will not be able to kill us all."64
Beyond strengthening the resolve of already existing movement participants or those tenants who stand to benefit, repression sometimes galvanizes wider community support. Repression injects news of an occupation into informal discussion, periodicals, and television, making it real for the uninvolved. This can activate community members and increase participation in a movement by more mainstream groups that have influence with governments and landlords. The Tacamiches benefited from this dynamic in Honduras. Germany witnessed this phenomenon too, according to a study of that country's squatting by Margit Mayer.
The occupation and subsequent violent eviction of a building in September 1971 encouraged more squats, because widespread indignation over brutal police actions and bloody street battles forced the Frankfurt mayor to rescind his earlier eviction order. Similar sympathies arose in Hamburg over the city government's repressive and criminalizing response to their first squats. Citizens' initiatives, tenant groups, and professionals came to the support of the squatters and formed a broad housing movement.65This diversity of movement and coalition of forces, as developed in chapter six, greatly increases a campaign's chance of success.
One of the most renowned instances of repression in recent Guatemalan history also galvanized community support. The infamous Panzos Massacre of May 29, 1978, is named after the town in which it took place. On that day, a group of 700 Kekchi Indians marched to Panzos and attempted to petition the mayor. They demanded the protection of their land rights, which oil prospectors were in the process of eroding. They also wanted to investigate the whereabouts of three peasant leaders kidnapped some weeks earlier.
At the behest of a group of eight landlords, 150 soldiers of the Guatemalan Army attacked the demonstration with sustained gunfire. Many of the peasants, including five women with babies, drowned as they tried to escape across the Polochic River. The army hunted down others in the surrounding hills, and many died for lack of medical attention when the military denied the Red Cross access. In total, the soldiers killed 140, wounded 300, and then buried the dead in a mass grave.
This brutality caused a week of protests by student, labor, church, peasant, and professional groups, culminating on June 8, 1978, when 80,000 people marched through Guatemala City. Rigoberta Menchu remembers the effect that the massacre had on her indigenous squatter community. "We felt this was a direct attack on us. It was as if they'd murdered us, as if we were being tortured when they killed those people."66
The community support that repression elicits can go beyond a particular land or housing issue and threaten the popularity of the government in power. The guerrilla tactics of Sumatran squatters in the 1950s and their relentless persistence in the face of eviction proved quite effective against the forces of large plantation owners and the government. When ordered off the land by patrols, squatters simply returned the next night, and children and women blockaded bulldozers that attempted to demolish huts and irrigation trenches. By 1951, government interdiction and limited repression was clearly ineffective, so tobacco companies agreed to return 130,000 of their 250,000 leased hectares to the government's holdings. Of the land returned, 20,000 hectares belonged to long-standing squatter settlements and 30,000 hectares belonged to newer settlements.
Land retained by tobacco companies in this agreement was to be cleared of squatters, but when police killed four in a 1953 attempted eviction on the Tanjung Morawa estate, public opinion swung against the government. "The Wilopo cabinet's support of the eviction," writes researcher Laura Ann Stolen "and its unequivocal siding with foreign capital, made this notorious Tanjung Morawa affair an immediate and principal cause of that cabinet's fall."67 The movement grew, and half a million people were squatting in Sumatra by 1957.
Persistence in the face of repression, as Gene Sharp notes with
regard to nonviolent struggles in general, is of principal
importance for social movements wishing to gain land and housing
concessions. The amount of persistence displayed, however,
depends on the solidarity of the participants, the ruthlessness
of the adversary, the degree of community support, and the
elasticity of the move merit. Weighing these factors,
participants gauge the relative merit of tactical retreat
compared with continued struggle.
Elasticity of SquattingWhere large numbers of people squat, governments have difficulty making evictions permanent. Police evict squatters, who then return or simply squat another area. In South Africa, a squatter camp called KTC began in 1983 with 20 houses framed with sticks and covered with plastic trash bags. KTC grew due to demolitions at other squatter camps, but every day the police demolished and burned people's shelters. The settlement became a focus for women's political action,68 and, within a few weeks, 10,000 people, mostly women, moved in. The police raided methodically, staging evictions even on rainy days. But after each eviction, squatters rebuilt their demolished huts at nightfall. Some squatters buried their houses before the police came or dug underground houses that escaped police bulldozers. Police failed to dislodge KTC until they demolished the shacks and ringed the area with barbed wire, search lights, and tanks. But this only squeezed KTC inhabitants into Crossroads, a squatter settlement famous for militant politics.
Squatters, by definition, have no legal place to live. This makes any form of removal, except for massacre, ultimately ineffective. Unfortunately, some governments or business interests may have consciously undertaken such a sinister tactic. In Rio de Janeiro, the 1993 murder of eight homeless children (known as the Candelaria killings) started a rash of similar murders. Before Candelaria, the average number of young people killed was 285 a year from 1985 to 1992. Since 1993, however, the average has risen to 1,172 a year. Some allege that shopowners pay police to kill homeless youths who congregate in commercial zones. A New York Times article refers to a "consensus that Rio residents are thankful that the police clear the streets of poor children and the petty crimes they rely on to survive."69
Barring outright massacre, however, eviction of a squatter from one place almost always means she or he squats somewhere else or waits until the police leave and then reoccupies the original land. Squatters are elastic like a water balloon. When you squeeze one spot, it bulges in another. Eviction only succeeds in moving poor people from one squatter settlement to the next, never in defeating the phenomena of squatting and poverty.
The elastic quality of Third World squatting approximates the elasticity of homelessness in the more affluent nations. As diligently as politicians attempt to invent new anti-homeless legislation to eradicate the poor from one city or neighborhood, the homeless only migrate to the next and shortly thereafter get repelled back to their origin. After New York City Mayor David Dinkins ordered the eviction of Tompkins Square Park in June 1991, most of the residents simply rebuilt encampments elsewhere, one of which they named "Dinkinsville," where 200 lived for about four months. According to Lower East Side activist Bill Weinberg, squatters built "shanties" with found materials, and the encampments "started to look like the slums of Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro."70
In 1998, I witnessed the supposedly liberal San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown buckle under to neighborhood and business pressures to "clean up the homeless problem." A few blocks from my home in the Haight district, he evicted homeless people from their campsites in Golden Gate Park and erected fences around their places of congregation. Ironically, the homeless had nowhere to go except the nearby residential and business neighborhoods from which the complaints originated.
Movement Use of ViolenceMost land and housing struggles succeed through elastic response to repression and persistent nonviolence. But like a water balloon squeezed so forcefully that it bursts, tenants and the landless can lose patience and use violence or the threat of violence as an ancillary tactic.
Some go underground to form clandestine organizations when authorities repress their nonviolent demonstrations. On January 26, 1972, aboriginal activists erected a tent city on the lawn of the Australian Parliament House in Canberra and dubbed their encampment the "Aboriginal Embassy." They demanded, among other things, better housing and land rights. Six months later, after 100 police evicted the embassy and arrested eight people, John Newfong, one of the original Aboriginal Embassy staff, announced that the land rights campaign would continue to operate, but would increasingly go underground. Urban guerrillas, according to Newfong, were training in several Australian cities.71 The training may or may not have produced Newfong's promised guerrillas, but the impulse is clear: repression of nonviolence tends to intensify the violent elements of a movement.
In the case of the Aboriginal Embassy, repression caused a land struggle to threaten violence. For a campaign waged by residents that attempts to defend a stationary resource, such as a particular piece of agricultural land or housing development, the transition from legality to violence follows a logical progression. Following repression, the initial impulse toward violence can appear in its most harmless manifestation: property destruction.
The 1971 rent strike by tenants of East Main Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to force the landlord to replace a broken boiler, shows how violence begins small and develops. After five months of tenants nonviolently withholding rent, police created a crisis. They arrested Willie Matos, a tenant leader and captain of the Bridgeport Young Lords Party (a radical Latino political organization), and forcibly evicted the Lords from their office for refusal to pay rent. The police then arrested 18 people and injured 20 in a failed attempt to disperse a large crowd in front of the office. Four people required hospitalization and one couple, according to the Guardian, "signed an affidavit testifying that police broke into their apartment, hit them with rifle butts, and threw their 18-month-old boy to the floor."72 After police arrested Matos, a friend of the landlord entered the Young Lords office, tore down posters, ripped out phones, broke a temporary wall partition, and threw furniture and office supplies onto the street. The illegal destruction of the office, the eviction, and the police violence all spurred some tenants to become more militant. They lit a police car on fire, returned the ousted furniture to the Lords' office, and danced to drums in the street.
Another round of repression lurked around the corner. When a young white man ran down the street yelling insults and a fight broke out, police re-evicted the Young Lords, cordoned off a 15-block area, made sweeps through the neighborhood, and injured a number of people on side streets. "One older man was asked by the police if he was Puerto Rican," reported the Guardian. "When he said he was, they hit him with their rifle butts."
Whereas tenants damaged only property in response to the first round of repression, in response to the second, harsher repression, tenants escalated in kind. After the eviction, 1,000 people marched from a nearby housing project to the Young Lords office, and someone lit a nearby building on fire. When fire engines arrived, angry tenants pelted firefighters with rocks and bottles. This rent strike by tenants in Bridgeport illustrates how, as police repression increases against larger numbers of people, small acts of violence by groups of tenants can escalate into large-scale riots like the ones that engulfed urban areas in the '60s.
Housing struggles throughout the world have also escalated into riots. In Cracking the Movement: Squatting Beyond the Media, the Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge (ADILKNO) describes a squatters movement in Amsterdam during the 1970s and '80s. ADILKNO explains the transformation of nonviolence into violence from the perspective of participants:
The 1978 eviction of the Nicolaas Beetstraat-Jacob van Lennepstraat corner house on the west side of Amsterdam is praised in current creation narratives as the step up to a squatters' movement which no longer steered clear of violent resistance. You can see it on film. Squatters standing three rows deep with arms linked in passive resistance to eviction had been beaten up with batons while chanting, "No violence, no violence!" It was clear that this was not to happen again: "In response to the senseless provocations of the authorities it's difficult to stay a bit reasonable yourself. A stirred-up crowd has such an energy, if that's unleashed the profes sional brawlers [police] will be nowhere," stated the nonviolent activists afterwards. When the Groote Keyser got an eviction notice at the end of '79 and was rebuilt into a fortress, the collective feeling was that the lesson of '78 now had to be taken as far as it could go.73
Following the initial use of nonviolence in Amsterdam, Dutch squatters increasingly deployed physical violence against the police. On October 25, 1985, 200 squatters "outfitted with helmets, clubs, and leather jackets" were just beginning to fight the police when they heard news over a radio. In a riot the day before, a friend named Hans Kok had been severely beaten and arrested along with dozens of others. News of Kok's death in his cell shocked and momentarily demobilized the 200 squatters. According to Paul, one of the rioters,
It was like a bomb had dropped on the square. First everyone was standing close together listening, but then everyone suddenly backed away .... Actually you'd expect that the reaction to the news would be a huge outburst of rage, but instead it seemed like people didn't know what to do anymore. The motivation to go on with the resquat had disappeared in a flash .... People couldn't believe it, it hit harder than a crack with a baton. Maybe part of it was like, shit, if they destroy someone who's already in a cell, then they can shoot us down here on the street like that too.74
But news of the death stopped the Amsterdam squatters for only a few hours. At a meeting later that evening, thoughts turned toward rioting. The squatters planned a mass demonstration for the next day and encouraged rioters to take small group actions against municipal targets that evening. Paul told an interviewer,
It was really strange that night. Suddenly everyone seemed to have the same kind of click. Everyone had the idea, now we'll use the ultimate means, just before guns anyway: mollies [Molotov cocktails]. Even people who were generally moderate said, now it's gone too far, this has to stop .... The fear threshold was gone. It didn't matter if you got picked up either. I think there was really a feeling of justification, like, I'm within my rights. You can bust me but it doesn't matter a fuck anyway. Normally you don't set cop cars on fire in front of a police station, you think it over a couple of weeks, how you'll go about it. That night it happened spontaneously, wham. I ran into people Saturday who said, I thought we were the only ones who would do something so heavy. But everyone did it.75
Certain gas stations refused to make sales to "suspicious types" as the number of attacks increased and spread as a far as Utrecht and Nijmegen. "At least 40 lightning strikes took place," according to ADILKNO, "including arson attacks on the traffic police (damage 1.2 million guilders), municipal outposts, an empty prison, the city records office, builders' huts, garbage cans, a tour boat, and city hall.76
The use of sabotage and violence by land and housing movements can lead to success or utter failure, depending on the circumstances. Some groups who use violence have enjoyed clear successes. One such group is the Xavante Indians, who live in the rainforests of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Starting in 1975, they drove cattle companies off their lands on multiple occasions and with much international media attention by fielding as many as 100 warriors in full traditional war dress and attacking company camps. In May 1980, 40 Xavante warriors, armed with modern weapons, occupied the headquarters of Brazil's Bureau of Indian Affairs (FUNA)). They vacated the premises only after extracting a promise from the head of FUNAI to add an extra 60,000 hectares of land to their reserve.77 The Xavante were lucky and politically astute, and took their actions at the right moment. Their success led other indigenous groups in Brazil to use violent tactics, as well, with mixed results.
Increased use of violence by a movement usually means an increase of repression. But repression has costs for the repressor, as well as repressed. Even when repressive tactics eventually extinguish a particular campaign, excessive political and economic costs for landlords and police can dissuade them from using such repressive tactics in future struggles. In the context of criminal justice, legal theory considers this the "deterrent effect" of sanctions. Tenants, the landless, and indigenous communities have also benefited by using the concept of deterrence. Just as repression chills the resistance of not only the repressed, but also anyone who might follow their example, violent resistance that accompanies repression can make government agencies and landlords hesitate. In this way, even a repressed direct action can lead to the success of future campaigns.
In 1973, AIM held hundreds of federal marshals at bay for 71 days at the small Pine Ridge hamlet of Wounded Knee. One of the marshals died, probably from friendly fire. The marshals eventually evicted the armed occupiers, but, in later AIM occupations, government officials thought twice about using violence. Memories of Wounded Knee led to a positive resolution of the armed encampment of the Mohawks at Ganienkeh in 1974 when the tribe received a large parcel of land as a concession. In a rare admission of outside radical influence on government policy, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany said, "We consciously avoided a direct conflict with the Indians .... We didn't want another Wounded Knee."78
Land and housing activists have recognized and acted on the principle of deterrence. In the context of massive riots, a squatter in West Berlin spoke to an interviewer in 1981 regarding searches of squats and evictions by the police. "We decided we must always react to these attacks by the police, we can't just let them happen, because if we do, next week they come knocking on this door and we will be out on the street."79
Squatters in Amsterdam also used the tactic of deterrence. During the July 3, 1980, Vogelstruys riot, 30 to 40 demonstrators barricaded in a squat threw household items (including chairs, tables, heaters, bricks, and bed springs) at approaching riot police. Dozens of other street demonstrators fought with rocks and steel bars against about 120 riot police who used tear gas, swung clubs, and, in what may have been a spontaneous innovation in police science, threw rocks back at the rioters. Eventually police lobbed tear gas through the windows, then severely beat and arrested the fleeing squatters.
Reflecting on the events, ADILKNO notes, squatters "had no reason to go so far again. But at the same time, the outside world thought that from now on squatters were prepared to defend their houses like this forever. This was an ace up their sleeves in future evictions."80 Squatters reoccupied the Vogelstruys squat and held meetings to prepare for the next eviction. According to ADILKNO,
Six intervening weeks of city-wide meetings decided for a change in course. A direct confrontation with the riot police could be prevented by placing evictions in an economic context; from now on they had to start costing the authorities as much money as possible. The strategy was twopronged: on one hand, the house had to pose enough of a threat that the police would be forced to deploy the maximum amount of personnel and equipment. On the other, there had to be a riot in order to do as much damage as possible to banks, the city, real estate agents and other nasties.81
The eviction attempt came in September, but instead of fighting in front of the squat, small groups spread across the city according to the new realpolitik that harkened back to American suffragettes who smashed business windows with hammers. ADILKNO describes how, in a constantly moving evasion of 200 riot police, squatters smashed windows in malls, banks, and upscale shops; looted; and started fires in the middle of streets.
By the next evictions, the "bank spree" strategy was preferred over a scuffle in and around the squat. But to this end, the squat groups had to disregard the neighborhood- and house-bound local experience that had started it all. The houses, stripped of their excess value of being part of one's "own" space, could be staked in negotiations over purchase, renovation and rent settlements. Threats and use of violence during evictions and other ways of getting into the media were meant to secure a strong position in current or future negotiations.82
On October 6, only one month after the second Vogelstruys riot, the "bank spree" strategy seemed to pay off. The city unexpectedly purchased the Groote Keyser (a house squatted since the late '70s) from the landlord and began negotiating with squatters on the mechanics of legalization, which eventually took place.83
To utilize the factor of deterrence for a current struggle, as did the Amsterdam squatters in 1980, activists have broadcasted the threat of violence to adversaries. During the massive public housing strike of 1973 in Newark, New Jersey, Toby Henry, the president of the Newark Tenant Organization, said, "There will be a revolution in this city if they try to evict the tenants." The strike consisted primarily of African American and Puerto Rican tenants. Later, the Newark Tenant Organization became even more specific, saying that "The tenants have threatened resistance and mass solidarity if sheriffs try to padlock any tenant out of their apartment. The thought always lingers that in 1967, race riots started in public housing."84 Though only talk, such statements are provocative fighting words when coming from a tenant organization president and may cause police chiefs to at least reconsider the efficacy of eviction. Newark tenants won management positions in their public housing, $1.3 million in housing funds, and three years' free rent after their strike.
Even more mainstream groups will use the violence or potential violence of social movements as a way to encourage reforms. Whether knowingly or not, their references to violence are veiled threats that have a chance of drawing the attention of governments that want to maintain political stability. FIAN-International is an international human rights group based in Heidelberg, Germany. Its coordinator for Latin America, Martin Wolpold, has described violence as the inevitable recourse of deprived peoples:
In many regions, as in Latin America, the peace process has advanced but the social and economic situation has deteriorated. There is a growing amount of violence which will lead to even greater conflict if the necessary structural changes are not made. One of those structural changes is of course land tenure reform .... In the late 1990s there was a lot of criminality in Central America. This is an expression of poverty, as it is in other regions where you see the paradoxical phenomenon of a simultaneously growing economy and growing poverty. The distribution model must change, and those who are excluded are very clear about this process and want their economic share, if necessary by violence.85
Wolpold's reference to violence, if conveyed to state actors with whom he has had contact (such as the head of the World Bank's Latin America division), would presumably augment the persuasiveness of his policy suggestions. In other words, the threat of social movements causing instability strengthens the hands of progressive policy advocates.
Though the reference to or use of violence can sometimes encourage governments to make concessions, this usually goes unacknowledged in the mainstream media. In mid-December 1995, Mayor Henning Voscherau announced that the city of Hamburg in Germany would sell the entire Hafenstrasse block to 120 squatters for only one-third of market value. In response, the New York Times headlined a January 5 article on the Hamburg struggle, "Squatters Win! (A Checkbook Did It)." Closer examination of the movement, however, and even of the article in question, forces one to reconsider the accuracy of the headline, the only text seen by most of the 1 million New York Times readers.
A headline that stated simply "Squatters Win!" without the parenthetical phrase would have at least omitted the mistake. Or, to more fully reflect the text, perhaps editors could have changed the secondary phrase to "(A Mass Movement Plus a Checkbook, Riots, and Arson Did It)." Activists initiated the first squats of Hamburg in 1973 as a protest against the demolition of neighborhoods and homes that had become historical landmarks.86 Housing movements opposed urban renewal when it threatened existing social networks.
Out of the early '70s movement grew community and tenant organizations that not only prevented many demolitions, but also built an organizational basis for the second massive mobilization. This began in October 1981, when about 100 activists occupied a block of empty houses owned by the city. In the hope of selling at a big profit to developers, the city of Hamburg left the Hafenstrasse houses vacant while waiting for land prices to inflate.
Early attempts to remove the squatters failed in the face of fierce resistance. "Rather than risk an all-out battle, the city agreed to give them a temporary rental contract .... When the rental agreement expired in 1986, more than 10,000 supporters of the squatters marched through downtown Hamburg demanding that it be extended." After the city announced plans to evict, several department stores were firebombed, causing millions of dollars worth of damage. One year later, in 1987, hundreds of masked squatters behind barricades and burning cars defended themselves from eviction with volleys of bottles and bricks lobbed at thousands of advancing police.
The mayor resigned as a result of the massive riot, but even the law-and-order successor had to start negotiating; in mid-December 1995, he granted ownership of the housing to the squatters. In turn, they agreed to pay $1.5 million, less than one-third of market value, and only half of the $260,000 in overdue rent and utility bills, with the city paying the balance.
Though money did play a role, a reappraisal of the story as related in the New York Times suggests that it takes much more than a checkbook to win gains for a squatting movement. In the case of the Hafenstrasse, it took persistence over dozens of years by a militant mass movement. Said one squatter, "We won. We struggled for years, and now we've reached our goal."
Deterrence may help some movements in the long run, but the adoption of violent resistance usually means only a more repressive form of eviction. Few isolated squatters or rent strikers will have the capacity to successfully confront the police or military. In Puerto Rico, with the path cleared for eviction by a 1981 court order, the police proceeded to utilize the divide-and-conquer tactic, bulldozing eight squatter settlements one by one.87 Seven hundred squatter families of the final settlement facing eviction, Villa Sin Miedo, had earlier decided to fight the police instead of willingly vacating the premises. They built barricades made of old cars and tree stumps and dug trenches to prevent the passage of unwanted vehicles. Squatters even surrounded the village with tires, which they planned to set aflame as a protective smoke screen upon attack.88
During the confrontation, police opened fire and wounded one man in the leg. Police also dragged two women by the hair to a police station where four officers beat them during interrogation. Despite an initial success, as whole families armed with machetes, sticks, and rocks forced police and bulldozers to retreat,89 the government evicted Villa Sin Miedo within a year.
Though violent resistance may yield positive results in some instances, social movements that use violence have experienced the harshest forms of repression.
Direct Action and the Birth of Revolutionary MovementsAs land or housing movements escalate their tactics, repression often causes the goals of a campaign to change from reform to more radical or even revolutionary solutions. Because isolated land occupations that resist eviction with violence rarely win without allies, and movements have not engaged in violent resistance consistently enough to create a substantial deterrent effect, occupations and campaigns sometimes go beyond sporadic violence to create or ally with revolutionary movements that seek the overthrow of particular governments. Writes Jeffery Paige in his Agrarian Revolution, a study of Peru, Angola, and Vietnam,
The conflict over landed property, which is the fundamental political issue in any system dependent on a landed elite, leads directly to conflicts involving the ultimate control of the political system. There are no other political options open to cultivators who are denied participation in politics, access to the legal system, or the right to engage in the pursuit of profit through small-scale farming.90
The process of revolutionizing land movements has followed a similar pattern in many countries. Peasants occupy a piece of land, the army or landownerhired mercenaries arrive to evict the new community, and peasants hide in nearby hills until the belligerent forces leave. These steps are retraced repeatedly until the occupiers defend themselves with a few ancient firearms. As the government and landlords kill people over many years, or as agricultural activity proves too difficult in an atmosphere of recurrent flight, people leave their communities to live in the jungle permanently, returning only on occasion to their rural communities. In this way, land movements, along with other social movements that experience similarly harsh repression, give birth to rural revolutionary movements.
The Zapatista guerrillas assumed control of large parts of Chiapas, Mexico, on January 1, 1994.91 They gained mass support in large part from indigenous campesinos and their peasant unions, which had experienced violent government and vigilante responses to their nonviolent attempts at land occupation. The roots of this support reach to the Portillo presidency starting in 1976.
A well-known case of repression occurred in Golonchan, Chiapas. Several hundred Tzeltal Indians burned brush, planted fields, and built homes on 80 hectares of land owned by a non-Indian rancher in the summer of 1980. This particular occupation formed part of a nationally coordinated takeover organized by the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores (Socialist Party of the Workers), in which 3,200 families occupied nine ranches in the Tzeltal region alone. When the Golonchan occupiers heard that the governor of Chiapas promised to communalize their lands, a huge celebration ensued. But what started as a day of jubilation ended in a massacre. Mexican soldiers and ranchers trapped the fiesta against a swollen river and opened fire with machine guns, killing 12 and wounding over 40 others. The army then looted and burned the huts and killed the dogs, cats, and chickens of the community.92
In response to state and vigilante violence such as the Golonchan massacre, established peasant unions such as the Confederaciòn Nacional de Campesinos (National Confederation of Peasants) became more conservative; other groups went underground and utilized increasingly militant tactics, holding hostages and occupying town halls to gain concessions. Many of these independent peasant unions allied themselves with a coalition called the Comite Nacional Plan de Ayala (CNPA, National Plan of Ayala Network),93 which became active beginning in the late 1970s. "The CNPA was a loose national network which permitted each group to retain its autonomy while uniting around basic demands and confrontational mobilization for land and against repression."94 When they decided to militarize their formerly nonviolent tactics in 1983, the Zapatistas got many of their initial supporters from various splinter groups of the CNPA. Many of these supporters came directly from land occupation campaigns and wanted to defend their communities concretely against massacres, assassinations, and many other instances of repression. These rural activists created the first Zapatista guerilla cells.95 Major Ana Maria of the Zapatistas explained the group's evolution from land occupation to guerrilla warfare tactics:
We are told the land belongs to so-and-so, and we don't even know them. But we see, there is the land, and we work on it .... It's been called an invasion; we invaded the land. And then they sent the Public Security forces, to burn the houses that had been built, to evict the people with canes and beat the people. They took our leaders. They put them in jail. They dragged them with horses to torture them. That is how theyre sponded .... And so we took up arms. We cannot do this peacefully.96
While the first Zapatista guerrillas trained in the Lacandon jungle, conditions for peasants worsened. From the mid-1980s to the mid-'90s, banks foreclosed about 10,000 peasant landholdings in Mexico. Land occupations and solicitation for agrarian reform by peasants led landlord vigilante groups and the military to massacre peasant communities and burn entire villages on multiple occasions in the '80s.97 After organizing for ten years, the Zapatistas got a surge of support in 1993. This support grew from outrage over the blatantly corrupt 1988 Chiapas elections, cooptation of established peasant groups, worsening economic conditions for peasants, the threat to local corn production by the liberalized trade policies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the cutting of Article 27 from the constitution. Article 27 provided for land reform and the ejido system of land tenure, and its loss dispelled the remnants of hope for established government reforms.98
In other countries, as well, the classic revolutions gained much of their power from rural discontent. In China, landlords charging exorbitant rents and high interest forced many tenants to flee and squat land in the hills. According to Ralph Thaxton, these squatters coalesced with "friends and relatives to ignite rebellion in their old home localities ... to realize a popular idea of redistributive justice." Mao Zedong first harnessed these already existing forces in the Autumn Harvest Uprising of 1927. After his defeat and the loss of Communist Party posts, the Mao group retreated to the Jinggangshan hills and "was able to survive and grow in part by resonating with itinerant hill-peasant fraternities."99
In Africa, many of the anti-colonial armies arose from land movements. When the Germans introduced large cotton plantations in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and forced Africans into 28 days of corvee labor a year, the 1905 Maji Maji rebellion spread over 10,000 square miles and involved over 20 different ethnic groups.100 In South Africa, the 1906 Bambatha Rebellion arose in part from exorbitant rents charged by absentee landlords.101 In Kenya, the Mau Mau rebellion developed from repressed agricultural squatter settlements in the white highlands.102 One of the songs used by the rebels to mobilize potential guerrilla fighters went, "Tell the young to rise up in arms / So that this land may be returned to us .... / Our whole country is in darkness / And the squatters increase daily...103
In Rhodesia, the Ndebele and Shona precipitated the African Risings of 1896 in an attempt to retrieve some of the 6.4 million hectares of land lost to Europeans (one-sixth of the country's total area). After a severe famine in 1922, during which the Rhodesian government continued to charge exorbitant rents, Africans at Inyanga began a nonviolent rent strike that successfully withheld 70% of the rent demanded. But pressures built until 1972 when, in response to evictions, many turned to guerrilla warfare.104 This group of guerrillas eventually grew large enough to unseat the Rhodesian government and create the independent nation of Zimbabwe in 1980.
Even in urban areas, squatter settlements form a base of support for revolutionary movements. Squatters often choose names for their settlements that indicate their revolutionary ideology, such as the Tierra y Libertad settlement in Mexico, the Baiiro Resistencia (Town of Resistance) settlement in Vitoria, Brazil, and the Nueva la Habana (New Havana, in reference to the Cuban revolution) settlement in Chile.
Beyond a name, however, urban squatters have helped to form the cutting edge of revolutionary movements in Third World cities. Early 1970s scholarship portrayed squatters as quiescent and politically passive, but recent studies have acknowledged that squatter settlements have launched militant student, labor, food price, and political movements, forming an urban base for demonstrations, riots, and even guerrilla units.105 Mountain guerrillas regularly visited the shanty of an acquaintance of mine, for example, when he researched a Latin American squatter settlement for two years.
The experience of my acquaintance seems widespread. I have already noted that the Philippine government evicted huge squatter communities in the mid-'70s, once preceding the Miss Universe parade and once before an IMF conference. These evictions curtailed only the visible manifestation of conflict. While squatters organized fewer mass mobilizations and direct confrontations with government agencies, the repression had a deep and radicalizing influence on the squatters' character and ideology. According to analyst J. Riiland, "Whereas formerly the movement pursued reformist goals within the political system, the view now prevailing is that better living conditions can only be achieved when the present authoritarian regime has been overthrown."106 Parts of the Manila squatter movement started to support the National Democratic Front (NDF), which favored armed struggle in the countryside. Shortly thereafter, in 1978, the NDF deployed an urban army,107 probably composed at least in part of urban squatters, if the composition of other urban guerrilla movements offers any clues.
In San Salvador, the offensive of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in the early '90s depended on extensive support and cover provided by the surrounding squatter settlements. In the first few years after President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines declared martial law in September 1972, a squatter group from Tondo Foreshore was one of the only organizations that held demonstrations.108 In Peru, Susan Stokes found a high level of militancy in Lima squatter settlements. Regarding Latin American squatters in general, she noted that "Residents of Santiago's poblaciones reportedly became central protagonists in the struggles against military rule; residents of Rio's favelas have turned to new institutions like Christian base communities to express a recently acquired sense of social injustice; and the urban poor of Managua under the Somoza regime [in Nicaragua] threw their support behind an openly revolutionary movement."109
As noted in the case of Amsterdam, even in the urban areas of Europe and North America, some squatter and rent strike activists have turned to violence, though not to the degree visible in the Third World. Capek and Gilderbloom cite a comprehensive study that positively correlated the severity of Black urban riots in the United States with increased urban renewal and lack of low-rent housing. They also note that during the late '70s and early '80s in West Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and England, people rioted over housing.110
In addition to rioting, land and housing activists in the West have sometimes supported terrorist organizations. In 1982 and 1983, the French urban guerrilla organization Action Directe recruited several members from the Paris squatting scene. Likewise, the terrorist Red Army Faction (RAF) in Germany found extensive support among German squatters. When the German government prompted RAF member Astrid Proll to flee the country in 1974, she hid with squatters in London for ten years.111 Karl-Heinz Dellwo, one of the six RAF members who occupied and later bombed the West German Embassy in Stockholm on April 25, 1975, had earlier been a squatter in Hamburg.112 In 1981, squatters from the Kreuzberg district of West Berlin smashed 80% of the windows on the Kurfuerstendamm, a twomile outdoor mall, when RAF member Sigmund Depus died while on hunger strike in prison.113
The large number of references to squatters in the communiques of later RAF generations suggest that the RAF probably continued to include squatters in its organization. In an April 4, 1991, communique claiming responsibility for the assassination of Detlev Rohwedder, "Bonn's governor in East Berlin," the RAF referred to the "evictions of squatters in East Berlin's Mainzerstrasse" as one reason it would continue its attacks. In a communique dated six days later, in which the RAF offered its historic cease-fire, the RAF threatened to renew terrorist actions if the government continued to harass the Hafenstrasse squatters in Hamburg. Four years later, the government granted legal ownership of the Hafenstrasse homes to the squatters.114
Squatters not only get and give support to terrorists, at times housing issues actually spark terrorist campaigns. Such was the case with the resurgence in the late '60s, after a ten-year lull, of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). A unionist councillor who had opposed the construction of housing for Catholic tenants evicted Catholic squatters in 1968 from public housing in Caledon. He replaced them with Protestant families that had no priority of need. In response, Catholics held large, nonviolent demonstrations. The police banned some of these demonstrations, which by then had broadened their demands from housing to include civil rights in general. Demonstrators ignored the ban, and police attacked the processions with water-cannon and baton charges. Groups of Protestant counter-demonstrators and vigilantes attacked other civil rights demonstrations. This Protestant escalation of violence led to Catholic riots. The police began using mounted machine guns on armored vehicles with lethal effects, and vigilantes burned Catholic public housing. In response, Catholics formed paramilitary groups in the spring of 1969 to protect Catholic neighborhoods. These disturbances, according to Alfred McClung Lee, author of Terrorism in Northern Ireland, "occasioned the resurrection of the IRA and the organization and reorganization of Loyalist vigilante groups."115 Of course, the issue of housing alone did not create the current conflagration in Ireland, but the issue of housing and the eviction of squatters was a powerful enough cause to form one link in a chain that led to the revival of terrorism.
A housing campaign in the United States also ignited a terrorist organization, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion (FAIN).116 In 1973, the courts stymied a predominantly Puerto Rican rent strike in Chicago. When the tenants refused to leave, landlords burned their own buildings down, thus both evicting the rent strikers and allowing the landlords to recoup their losses through the collection of fire insurance remuneration. In one of these buildings, however, nine children and four adult tenants were burned to death. "The adults who died in that fire," said tenant organizer Oscar Lopez Rivera, "were people I had known for years, having practically grown up with them; and the children I had played with. The deaths were a tremendous blow to me."117 The police made only a cursory investigation and charged nobody with the crime.
In disgust, Rivera gathered several close friends and created the FALN, committed to Marxism and Puerto Rican independence. The FALN was most active between 1974 and 1977. The group bombed a total of 120 buildings, including Citibank, Chase Manhattan, and the U.S. State Department. The FALN deliberately avoided attacks on people, but accidentally killed five persons and wounded scores of others.118 As the case of the FALN illustrates, repression of a housing movement can lead not only to sporadic violent resistance, but to a movement that expands its goals to include the overthrow of the government. When these revolutionary movements succeed, they can cause greater redistribution of land and housing, but they also occasion further cycles of repression.
Effects of Revolution on Land and Housing MovementsSevere repression accompanies any revolutionary movement, including those that arise from land and housing issues. The Germans killed about 75,000 people to temporarily stop the Maji Maji in Tanganyika, while the British killed 11,503 to stop the Mau Mau in Kenya. The massive loss of life inherent to revolutionary movements might have a moral effect on government officials that can provoke land and housing concessions. More pessimistically, the unsustainable loss of profit associated with revolutions might force these concessions. The Maji Maji and the Mau Mau rebellions helped achieve reforms and ultimately national independence.119
In Rhodesia, the colonial military hunted down many of the Ndebele and Shona leaders and buried Africans alive in their hiding places to quell the African Risings of 1896. But the colonial government also agreed to several concessions. The proclamation included the abolition of forced labor, a two-year grace period during which no rents were to be paid and no evictions were to take place, and the provision of 33,000 hectares on which about 4,000 people settled. Administrators also assigned more land for African use in the form of reserves.
Concessions in circumstances of revolution, however, usually do not go directly to revolutionaries. Wherever possible, governments seek to act as though revolutionary movements have no effect, and so concessions granted to dampen support of revolution goes to the pool of poor government collaborators or the nonaligned. In the United States, Adam Fortunate Eagle believes the Alcatraz occupation by Indians of All Tribes, though nonviolent, contributed to government fear of a general violent Native American uprising aligning itself with other militant leftist formations such as the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground. "So while the Alcatraz Indians were pressuring the government," he writes, "federal officials were forced to negotiate with other Indian groups to appease the Indian community and stop further criticism from the general liberal population."120
Fortunate Eagle interviewed former Commissioner of Indian Affairs Robert Bennett and asked him what effect the Alcatraz invasion had on the condition of Native Americans. "One of the first and direct results of Alcatraz," replied Bennett, "was that the [Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)] started working with state employment agencies on a cooperative basis to find jobs for Indians on or near the reservations." This reversed the former BIA policy of termination, which sought the assimilation of Native Americans through dispersal of tribal members to farflung urban areas. Instead of the old tribal leaders, Bennett continued, "we started to listen more to young Indian leadership."121
Other militant actions by Native Americans also forced the U.S. government to make concessions. In 1970, a "fish-in" by Puyallup Indians persuaded the government to bring a fishing-rights suit on behalf of the Indians against the state of Washington. Where previous appeals had failed, the suit was filed nine days after someone firebombed a bridge, Indians shot rifles to ward off police who were attempting to confiscate fishing nets, and police arrested 60 Indians for felony riot. Regarding the effect of the riot on the fishing-rights case, a lawyer from the U.S. Justice Department admitted, "I suppose it may have had some bearing. Maybe we hurried a little bit."122 While the armed confrontation succeeded for the Puyallup and other Washington tribes on a judicial level, it also helped positive national legislation. Senator Edward Kennedy immediately used the incident to push for a bill that gave better representation to Native Americans doing legal battle with state and federal agencies.123
In addition to these isolated Native victories, the repeated, consistent, and armed occupations of the early '70s probably eased passage of the relatively positive federal Indian legislation and reform of the late '70s. These reforms included the Indian SelfDetermination Act of 1975, the Indian Freedom of Religion Act of 1978, more generous federal funding of social programs, the change in Department of Interior policy that ended programs of relocation and termination, and various courtroom victories.124 Even in the early '70s, the general unrest may have helped influence President Nixon to order 45,000 acres (18,000 hectares) of the Sacred Blue Lakes returned to the Taos Pueblo people and more than 160,000 acres (65,000 hectares) returned to the Warm Springs tribes of Oregon.125
While revolutionary tactics can help obtain concessions, they also create an atmosphere in which officials become wary of repressing land occupations for fear of fueling further violence. Peasants in and around Chiapas, for example, immediately took advantage of the 1994 Zapatista rebellion with agrarian agitation and land occupations. On February 1, 1994, 4,000 indigenous people in southern Oaxaca occupied nine government buildings and demanded a settlement of agrarian reform land claims. That same week, 3,000 campesinos occupied several banks in Tapachula, calling for an end to farm and house foreclosures and the cancellation of peasant debts.126 Within nine months of the Zapatistas' initial offensive, landless peasants occupied more than 500 ranches and estates. During an occupation of the German-owned Liquidambar hacienda, peasants of the Francisco Villa Popular Peasants Union wore masks and, according to Latinamerica Press, affected "the style and the militancy - if not the weapons - of the Zapatistas."127
The state of Chiapas offered coastal agricultural land to the squatters of Liquidambar, but the squatters told a latinamerica reporter, "We don't want their crumbs. We want this ranch."128 Zapatistas have also created the conditions for a better quality of life for Chiapenecos: both the national government of Mexico and international groups have increased humanitarian and development aid to the area. In peace talks with the government, Zapatista negotiators have been pushing hard for a redistribution of land in Chiapas and the creation of a special office for resolving Indian land disputes, in addition to many civil rights advances for Indians.129
With the 1996 offenses by the army, however, which paved roads into the jungle, retook the towns, replaced police power, and weakened the Zapatistas, landlords have returned to the region. In March 1996, armed landlords engineered a mass eviction that left at least two peasants dead. How much of the land will be retaken by landowners is still unknown.
In past land occupations supported by leftist governments or revolutionaries, squatters have successfully defended at least a portion of their occupied land after an adversarial government returns to power. Following the 1974 leftist coup in Portugal, for example, squatters orchestrated the largest popular land seizures in European history. They took 35,000 houses and occupied 23% of the nation's agricultural land, a total of more than 1.2 million hectares.
After the rightist reversal of the revolution in November 1975, landlords launched a counter-offensive against the occupations; but in a year and a half they could evict agricultural workers from only 2% of the occupied acreage. Even after a 1977 law allowed landowners to evict many more occupiers, they had to leave a significant number in peace. As noted earlier, government officials and union leaders estimated in 1986 that between one-third and one-half of the cooperatives would survive implementation of the law.130
As in Portugal, most concessions due to a revolution are made to land and housing movements within the region of a struggle. Important exceptions have occurred. The Cuban revolution in 1959 changed the attitude of governments throughout Latin America toward land reform. Whereas previously they granted land reforms only when pressured by local agrarian rebellions, "In the aftermath of the Castro revolution, many Latin American countries implemented land reforms to avert revolution," writes researcher of Latin American social movements Susan Eckstein.131 Revolutionary movements can have an effect far outside the region of their direct control, both in encouraging revolutions in other countries and encouraging reforms to avert those revolutions.
Similar pressures can induce rent control. During the Bolshevik scare, New York City rent strikes in the winter of 1907-08 and from 1917 through 1920 achieved some success. As with an earlier 1904 strike, rent increases triggered the successes; after 1904, however, the Socialist Party was increasingly involved. In the context of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia, an alarmed New York business community interpreted this Socialist involvement as a threat not only to rents but to the "fabric of political and economic organization." The state legislature introduced rent controls quickly in 1920 to defuse the discontent over housing, and though landlords and police evicted many, according to figures printed by the Jewish Daily Forward, 3,000 families won rent reductions.132
Revolutions help land and housing movements, and these movements help revolution. Even when squatters and landless persons did not directly join in combat operations, according to Eckstein, they played a critical role in the Mexican, Bolivian, and Cuban revolutions, often aiding locally by "seizing lands, disrupting production, and creating disorder."133 Land occupations help revolutionary movements because they provide an agricultural base from which many guerrilla units receive food donations. Since squatters know their land tenure depends on the victory of the revolution, they understand that they have every material advantage to seeing that revolution succeed. Four days before the Sandinista victory on July 19, 1979, "1,000 dispossessed campesino families occupied 22,600 acres [9,150 hectares] of Somocista-owned farmland ... and started bringing it back into production," according to Joseph Collins. "These land seizures were not only a matter of just vindication (revindicacion) of the wrongful actions of the bigger landlords. Just as important was the need to provide food in the liberated areas."134
As Eckstein noted, such occupations of vacant land and land devoted to export agriculture also deprive government and large landowners of wage laborers, taxes, and rent. This weakens the regime's economic strength and makes the payment of military wages and the procurement of military hardware more difficult. The symbiotic relationship between squatters and revolutionaries causes the two groups to effect mutual aid and, in many instances, to become indistinguishable.
South Africa's Rent StrikePerhaps the best example of a land or housing movement that aided a revolution is the massive rent-strike-cum-squatter movement in apartheid-era South Africa. Beginning in September 1984, African residents refused to pay rents on their government-owned homes in the townships. The rent boycotts spread rapidly due to growth in nationalist sentiment, loss of confidence in township officials, a lack of alternative political channels, falling African family real income, and a simultaneous rise in rental costs. Between 1980 and 1985 in the Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Val region, the average proportion of household income demanded for rent rose from 25% to 88%.
While boycotters primarily sought subsidized housing, rent control, and rent cuts, they also used the rent boycott as a tactic for eroding government power. Strikers demanded traditional leadership on a local level, as opposed to town councilors imposed by Pretoria, and deprived the national government of extensive revenue. By 1988, 90% of renters in South Africa's townships had joined the boycotts. They sustained the boycott for the longest period in South Africa since the early 1950s, costing the state an estimated revenue loss of $400 million between 1985 and 1988.135
Government attempts to repress the strike largely failed. The government initially attempted to force employers and town councils to deduct rental arrears from wages, but most employers refused to do so, not wanting to transfer the struggle from the government onto factory floors. The government then declared a state of emergency and resorted to ruthless arrests and evictions that included extensive violence and even killings. In just one of these many evictions, on August 26, 1986, in Soweto, police attacked 400 demonstrators protesting against eviction attempts and, according to the Soweto Civic Association, killed 30 and wounded at least 200.136 Despite heavy repression in this and many other instances, the government failed to force the majority of township residents to pay rent.
This sustained resistance and the transfer of finances from the Pretoria government to the lowest socioeconomic strata of Africans provided tremendous political power to the African National Congress (ANC) in the early '90s. But once Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994, he was not able to satisfy the land and housing demands of these poorest sectors. At the time of this writing, the ANC government is making futile attempts at rent collection, just as the apartheid government had done for years. The rent strikers, however, have not changed their refusal to pay. The ANC finds itself bucking what South Africans call a "culture of nonpayment," the same noncooperation with authority that bankrupted local apartheid governments and helped bring the ANC to power.137 In Soweto, only 25% of residents paid taxes, utility fees, and rents to the government in 1997, while the rate of payment has remained at only 3% in Alexandria. Between 1994 and 1997, poor South Africans withheld $1.2 billion in payments.138
South African squatters erected 200,000 new shanties every year in the early '90s, with about 250,000 squatters in Johannesburg alone. The Mandela government placed a moratorium on land occupations in July 1995, but the rate of occupation only rose.139 Unfortunately, the ANC has used repressive tactics similar to those of the apartheid government. According to a May 3, 1996, article in the New York Times, "courts have ordered evictions, shacks have been burned, and groups of poor families have fought pitched battles over who will get housing, if it is ever built."140 Instead of providing places for the poor to live near the city where they can work, Mandela created "reception areas" for evictees in remote areas. Many squatters are not told until just a few days beforehand that they will be evicted; one group of evictees were told only that their new home would be "Plot 139." Where Plot 139 was located, nobody knew until they arrived. "When they came for us," said Paulina Mashebe, mother of six, "I said, no, we could not move. But they said we had to. There was no choice."141 In February 1997, when the government attempted to raise electricity and water rates in mixed-race neighborhoods around Johannesburg, residents once again blocked roads, burned tires, threw rocks, and looted stores. Mandela's police used tear gas and live ammunition to quell the riots, killing four and wounding thirty.142
CooptationThe common goal of landlords and governments faced with land and housing agitation is to reestablish rent payments by tenants or coerce squatters into moving. To do this, they offer incentives for squatter cooperation and/or alter laws to accommodate the settlements.
The reliance of government and propertied interests on squatter settlements as a form of cheap housing and as a space from which the informal sector of the economy can operate heightens the need to coopt instead of evict. As in any large development of inadequate housing, whether a squatter settlement or slum, government and employers cannot afford to evict mass numbers of people and thereby risk social disorder or irregularities in the ability of laborers to attend work.
In the last 30 years, many Third World governments and international agencies have recognized that the eviction of urban squatter settlements actually harms their economies and creates unmanageable social unrest. They have generally moved away from the policy of eviction and toward a policy of cooptation. Evidence of revision, at least on the level of propaganda, is increasingly visible since the first "Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements" held in Vancouver in 1976. Government participants in that conference officially recognized the need to provide security of tenure, improve infrastructure, increase lowincome housing, and integrate squatters into the national development process. By 1982, the United Nations could argue forcefully in its Survey of Slum and Squatter Settlements for positive policies:
It has been common practice to keep squatters in an illegal state of land occupation to prevent and curb further squatting. There is a fear that granting any form of security of tenure, be it freehold or a form of leasehold, will be tantamount to legitimizing an illegal act and will encourage further squatting and continued migration to the cities .... The benefits accruing from security of tenure can be used as a counter argument. The sheer magnitude of the problem calls for action by society as a whole.143A change of names given to settlements in Peru by President Juan Velasco Alvarado illustrates the new policy. When the Peruvian government no longer seeks eviction of a particular occupation, it changes the area's name from "squatter settlement" to the more upbeat pueblo joven, or "young town."144 This shift of terminology and ideology around the world indicates a victory for squatters, who have used community organizing and protest to push policy from immediate eviction to the provision of skeletal services. But most of what is considered success in these pages is only partial. Government tolerance comes with a condition: squatters usually must surrender their autonomy and cede local power over community decisionmaking.
The United Nations hints at cooptation with an almost Machiavellian tone in its Survey of Slum and Squatter Settlements, which promises reluctant governments that security of tenure will soften, weaken, and divide squatter movements. "The transition from a militant leadership to a moderate one is characteristic of squatter settlements that win acceptance by the authorities. This change in leadership is accompanied by a weakening of community solidarity. As security of tenure increases, unity becomes less important for survival, and latent divisions emerge."145
Even though reform and cooptation have become more common during the last 20 years, it goes without saying that most governments freely mix major doses of repression with any forms of cooptation they may adopt. In Puerto Rico, a wave of squatting began in 1968, peaked in 1972, and ended in 1976. During this wave, squatters built approximately 16,800 structures, established 186 communities, and mobilized a population of 84,000 individuals. To resolve these squatter challenges, the government began with anti-squatter legislation, arrests, criminal charges, injunctions, police surveillance, and violent razings. This roused the ire of public opinion, so the government adopted seemingly positive measures: legalizing settlements; encouraging squatters to litigate; and providing partial land distribution, construction, and loan programs.
But these somewhat helpful steps had a negative side. While most of the settlements achieved acceptance by the government, thus safeguarding homes and community, the tactic of cooptation eventually re-enveloped squatters in a dependent relationship with the government, making them vulnerable to government dictates. "The constant pressure of government agencies to re-establish a social-welfare relationship with the mobilized masses," researcher of Puerto Rican squatter movements Liliana Cotto writes, "reduced the space for autonomous action on the part of [squatter] committees."146
Beyond the reduction of autonomy, government concessions usually pave the way for a gradual reabsorption of squatter land tenure into mainstream housing and its attendant problems of inequitable distribution. After the intense squatting and violent resistance of West German squatters in the early 1980s,147 the German government used institutional recognition not only for deradicalization (massive riots receded after cooptation), but to slowly raise rents to market value. After the city of Berlin purchased some of the squatted buildings from the former owners, squatters signed long-term leases at low rents and with extensive self-management rights. A similar process took place in Hamburg in 1984, in other German cities over the next few years, and again in Hamburg in January 1996.148
The problem with these negotiated settlements arose when local governments gradually raised the rents of the former squats to near-market levels, absorbing the free labor of self-help squatters in the process and slowly forcing the poorest of the former squatters to vacate.
The eventual dispossession of the squatters on a small scale was mirrored on a neighborhood level as the rehabilitation of old buildings encouraged gentrification. Ironically, the early '80s wave of German squatting began as a protest against redevelopment and gentrification. This cooptation of original squatter goals led the most radical squatting elements in the '90s, the autonomia, to attack, sometimes violently, the government housing programs chartered to administer the former squats.149 By 1995, all except one of the West Berlin squats that signed leases in the mid-'80s became "yuppified"; the former squatters became more affluent and joined mainstream society.
Perhaps the crux of cooptation is the transfer of legal title not to the activists themselves, but to an institutional entity. Because mainstream groups have greater legal liability and connection to governments, or even differing political loyalties, their use of the newly acquired property may contradict or void the original spirit of the activists. In Gresham, Wisconsin, on January 1, 1975, the Menominee Warrior Society occupied a Roman Catholic abbey owned by the Alexian Brothers and called for its use as a cultural center. Eight hundred National Guard troops with several armored vehicles laid siege to the abbey for a month, and a huge group of armed and angry whites called for vigilante violence. To end the tense situation, the Alexian Brothers transferred ownership of the 84room novitiate, valued at $750,000.150 They did not transfer the property to the young and radical occupiers, who wanted to create a health and education center, however, but to the U.S.-recognized tribal council that opposed the Warrior Society and the occupation. This ended the occupation, but the tribal council refused to administer the property shortly afterwards, citing fiscal reasons. Amid much controversy between the Warrior Society and the tribal council, the Alexian Brothers repossessed the building in July.151 Thus the transfer of property to a supposedly benign third party evaporated the direct action and yielded no benefits to the activists or to their community.
The problems attendant to conditional, partial, and self-interested concessions have encouraged many squatters and land activists to reject cooperation with government programs. Half the inhabitants of the Las Colinas squatter settlement in Bogota, Colombia, formed the Oposicionistas and took a position against reliance upon outside assistance. Likewise, squatters in the north of Mexico and on the periphery of Mexico City deliberately rejected government provision of services to resist cooptation. They preferred to steal materials and illegally obtain water, electricity, and other urban necessities.152
"Oposicionistas" exist in the rich nations, as well. One Homes Not Jails squatter infuriated other squatters because he blocked a consensus decision to rent a dumpster. He felt that paying money for a dumpster would place the squatters in a dependent position on the city and instead advocated that they illegally throw the massive amounts of construction trash into other dumpsters or small municipal trash bins they could find on street corners around San Francisco.
In another instance, an African American group called the National Economic Growth and Reconstruction Organization (NEGRO) visited the Indian occupiers on Alcatraz Island in September 1970 to encourage a deal with the government. NEGRO had occupied Ellis Island and successfully attained a government contract and funds to operate a drug-rehabilitation and welfare-recipient training center on the island. They offered to use their channels with the federal government to obtain a five-year lease and a government contract for the Indians to operate the lighthouse, but guessed the occupiers would have to drop their insistence on gaining permanent title to the island. Indians of All Tribes rejected the proposal as giving away too much and were evicted nine months later.
ReformMovement resistance to cooptation brings activists closer to ultimate goals and ideals, but struggles that make no compromise usually fall to repression. To end conflicts favorably, bargaining with the adversary becomes an essential aspect of direct action. Bargaining (without forgetting the pitfalls of cooptation) becomes the way in which land and housing activists can parlay their struggle into tangible and long-term improvements in community life. Peruvian writer Carolina Carlessi writes that squatters in Lima, Peru, "develop the power to question the state, even as they wrangle concessions, to escape party strictures, and to transcend the limits of Peru's official system of representative democracy."153
During a campaign, activists may proclaim the most idyllic, utopian goals possible, and it suits their purpose to do so. But when they tire of the fight, they must negotiate their reemergence into legality. This negotiation is not necessarily the abdication of struggle, but its next phase. Convincing a government to decriminalize a squatter settlement, initiate land reform, or decrease the rent moves society toward an egalitarian ideal. Taking collective action with neighbors, even if only for a short period, is a step toward understanding community and creating new economic relationships.
Not all activists in a movement will agree on when to compromise for concessions. For different sectors of a movement, the costs and benefits of further struggle may differ. This leads to conflict over when the struggle should end. At Co-op City, rent strikers voted to end the strike after 13 months and accept the concessions offered by the state of New York. Some of the strike's lawyers and a few leftist newspaper reporters criticized the settlement as giving away too much. The reason for the discrepancy may stem from the primary costs and risks of the strike falling on the strikers, while a major benefit of the strike - a revolutionary example of people refusing to pay rent - would have been reaped by leftists and society in general.
The Co-op City Rent Strike, 1975-1976The Co-op City rent strike, which took place in the Bronx between 1975 and 1976, was the largest rent strike in U.S. history. The biggest publicly funded housing project in the world, Co-op City has 60,000 residents in 35 high-rise buildings, six townhouse clusters, three shopping centers, and six schools. The Riverbay Corporation, which administers the housing for the state of New York, gave priority to low-income residents (who were roughly 60% Jewish and 25% African American and Latino) and promised in 1965 to keep monthly carrying charges at $23 per room.154
This attractive arrangement quickly collapsed when Riverbay reneged on its promises and increased rent payments by over 125% in ten years.155 With even larger increases looming in the future, tenants decided to take action in 1975. Represented by a series of steering committees, tenants initiated legal tactics such as a fraud suit, a lobby of the state legislature for aid to public housing, and a gubernatorial electoral campaign for Hugh Carey, who promised $10 million to cover the Co-op City budget deficit.
The fraud suit yielded nothing, the legislation failed, and, following a long tradition of illustrious politicians, Hugh Carey broke his campaign promise after he was elected. Tensions built among Co-op City residents, and, in May 1975, tenants dumped 80% of Co-op City's rent checks on Governor Carey's desk in black garbage bags.
These subtle tactics having failed to bring the message home, tenants began withholding their rent in June 1975. They placed nearly $3 million in escrow the first month, and so began the largest rent strike in U.S. history. Both in the number of people participating and in the amount of money withheld, the strike has not yet been equaled. It lasted 13 months, gained 85% participation, and, by the end in 1976, held an astounding $27 million in escrow.
To administer the strike, tenants printed and distributed 16,000 leaflets a day, carried out building patrols, and facilitated tenant meetings twice weekly in every lobby. Volunteers ran a communications center with a printing press, moving loudspeaker system, and 24-hour hotline. On the first ten nights of each month, 1,500 volunteers collected rents in 75 building lobbies from 7 to 9 p.m. Volunteers then processed, recorded, boxed, and gave the checks to organizer Charles Rosen, who hid them from state housing officials in his friend's attic.
Although the state threatened mass eviction, Rosen called the bluff. "We said we'd like to know which politician was prepared to hire the army necessary to evict 60,000 people," he said. "If they tried to do it legally through the landlordtenant court . . . it would take them six years to process the evictions."156
Faced with these difficulties, the state of New York used every other tactic at its disposal. Officials reduced maintenance, security personnel, hot water, corridor lighting, and heat. They fired 200 of the 500 Co-op City employees. Tenants expressed solidarity with those who had been laid off and offered to give the state $675,000 out of the escrow fund to rehire the employees, but the state refused. The attempted isolation of Coop City had a ripple effect. Because the state refused to pay the utility bills, Consolidated Edison announced that it would cut off electricity. Although the state court forbade the transaction, tenants offered Consolidated Edison payment from the escrow account. Con Ed accepted the $1.2 million.
With the failure of these low-intensity forms of repression, the state targeted leaders. It fined the steering committee as a whole $5,000 and individual leaders $1,000 for every day tenants withheld rent. In addition, the judge sentenced ten individual leaders, including Charles Rosen, to jail time. But organizers refused to pay the fines, and threats of imprisonment failed to intimidate them. "They really believe that if they put Charlie in jail that's the end of the strike," one striker told the Village Voice. "They don't understand that it's all of us, that we are organized to go on replacing each other forever, that this strike has changed our lives, and that nothing will make us give up."157 The government never carried out its threat of fines or jail.
In June 1976, the solidarity and economic strength of the tenants finally induced the state to offer concessions. State Commissioner of Housing Lee Goodwin, who opposed the concessions and whose removal tenants demanded, resigned in protest. The agreement provided for six months of tenant rule in which the directorship of the Riverbay Corporation was turned over to the steering committee, the dropping of charges and fines against strike leaders, and the transfer of all Riverbay Corporation books to the new board of directors for use in the initiation of fraud lawsuits relating to the 125% rent increases.
The agreement seemed great at the time, and the tenants voted for its adoption. But there was one big catch. Upon assuming control over the Corporation, tenants agreed to repay the largest mortgage in U.S. history at $436 million. The size of the mortgage formed a major stumbling block for lowering rents. With bank foreclosure, personal financial ruin, and renewed state directorship looming on the horizon, the mortgage coerced former strikers into taking the role of administrators of austerity, procurers of development, and raisers of rent. The agreement resembled the debt crisis facing nations such as Mexico, Brazil, Russia, and elsewhere. By the end of July, Citicorp and other banks had convinced Co-op City residents to cooperate and raise the rent another 20% themselves.
Some of the outside radicals who supported the strike considered the settlement a sell-out. In a somewhat bitter article, In These Times reported that middleincome residents voted against lower-income tenants for the rental increase, many tenants were "disturbed by the large salaries the leaders began paying themselves," decision-making was centralized to save money, and Charles Rosen welcomed the construction of an industrial complex on vacant land adjacent to the project to produce income.158
An article by Larry Bush in Shelterforce printed the opinions of several tenants about the settlement. A comment by one man, according to Bush, represented the most commonly held criticism: "I'm sure a lot of people are glad it's over," he said,
but I don't think anything's been solved. I heard some people saying that before they had the strike, 80% of the carrying charges [rent] was going for the mortgage, and the cost of maintenance ... is still the same. I don't see much change .... I think it's something good they've started, and I still think they have good intentions .... I don't know, maybe I was expecting too much.
Bush maintained that many outsiders and certain housing lawyers, while "respectful of the basic achievements of the settlement, still feel that because the bank mortgage was not confronted head-on, the long-term effects of the rent strike are not significant."159
On the other hand, tenants gained important concessions. For the 13 months of struggle, tenants successfully stabilized rents by placing them in escrow: the state of New York dared not raise rents during a rent strike. Each tenant gained interest on the rent they held in the bank, because their checks went uncashed. After the strike, services and maintenance improved as a result of tenant directorship, and the prospects for legal success in fraud suits increased with the acquisition of access to Riverbay accounting books. Previously, tenants held only five of 15 seats on the Riverbay board of directors, while financial institutions and the state filled the other ten. Afterwards, tenants elected the entire board. This democratization included a tremendous amount of education and empowerment related to the financial issues at stake. Strike leader Rosen supported the settlement and defended the tenants' choice against leftist critics:
The victory of a reformist struggle is in fact a victory .... But it is not revolution .... All we are hoping to do now is to develop a program of reform to guarantee, on a longer-range basis, an accommodation with the system. If anyone on the left thinks the Bolsheviks of the Bronx are looking to make a Soviet up here in the northeast, they are sadly mistaken.160
Thus the conflict between promoters of settlement and promoters of further struggle was resolved by an almost economic equation. For promoters of immediate resolution, costs of further struggle outweigh the benefits. For promoters of further struggle, benefits outweigh the costs. But only the activists involved can make the decision of when to settle. They have something to lose and will bear the costs.
The Continuum of StruggleThe movement at Co-op City was unique, but many campaigns share common trajectories as they leap parallel obstacles that some social movement theorists have called a "continuum of struggle."161 In the cases studied here, movements begin when one or just a handful of activists do educational work with their neighbors and friends, who might not feel an urgency for action. The movement stays small until an authority raises the rent beyond an acceptable point, announces a mass eviction, or adopts particularly brutal tactics of repression. This string of incidents falls upon the community prepared by the original activists, and so begins a movement.
Initially, most campaigns try legal tactics such as petitions, demonstrations, lobbying, and deputations to the landowner or government. These tactics succeed to a greater or lesser extent. At the very least, they educate the community as to the configuration of power responsible for the problem. At best, they cause major changes that nullify the need for direct action. Sometimes success is only a small reform that deflates community struggle or a concession to particular individuals that divides the campaign.
If insufficient concessions are made during the lobbying stage of a movement and the adversary seems to stop listening, activists usually choose the path of nonviolent direct action. This heightens the conflict so it cannot be ignored by the adversary, demonstrates the strength and determination of the activists, and dramatizes the problem so the media can bring it to a wider audience.
Repression almost always follows organized illegal action by nonviolent organizations. Some campaigns overcome this repression through endurance and other nonviolent tactics. Nonviolence limits the total amount of repression, though it requires a large amount of disciplined self-sacrifice by activists. Other times, movements or individuals choose to augment nonviolent tactics with violence. This violence is usually defensive, but it can bring the most brutal forms of repression and can sometimes escalate into an explicitly revolutionary movement. Although the majority of land and housing movements reported in the national and international media are those few that use violence or the threat of violence, most land and housing movements are nonviolent. These include huge numbers of urban squatters and land occupiers that purposely reject the use of violence and therefore never gain coverage in the local, much less the international, media. Instead, they induce small concessions and reforms through an assiduous use of nonviolent tactics and mass organizing.
Both violent and nonviolent movements cease temporarily when repression causes enough fear or when landowners or governments make concessions. But these struggles consistently return to begin where they left off, to learn from their mistakes, or to fight for even broader goals.
|Introduction | Homes Not Jails | Battling the Banana Baron | Philosophy to Squat By | Tell It to the Judge | Violence and Cycles of Reform | Tactics and Mobilization | Conclusion|
2. "Third Offensive Against Tangwena." Peace News, 8/4/72, p. 2.
3. Norris, Alexander. "Patroes and Pistoleiros: Brazil's Land Barons Refine Tactics:" New Internationalist, Oct. 1992, p. 31.
4. Thomson, Marilyn. Women of El Salvador: The Price of Freedom. London: Zed Books, 1986, pp. 55-56. The repression testified to by Susana came when, for the first time in 30 years, many rural trade unions occupied lands in 1977 and 1978. The military was responding to armed insurrection and broad-based civil unrest, not simply land occupation.
5. Alvarado, p. 36.
6. "'Land to the Landless' Convulses India." People's World, 8/29/70, p. 6.
7. Fernandez, Ronald. Prisoners of Colonialism: The Struggle for Justice in Puerto Rico. Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1994, pp. 319-320.
8. "Guarani: The Kaiowa Prepare to Die for Their Land Rights." Nonviolent Activist, May 1994, p. 17.
9. Churchill, Ward. Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1994, pp. 178, 191.
10. Indigence, Spring 1974; Churchill, Ward, and Winona LaDuke. "Native America: The Political Economy of Radioactive Colonialism." Insurgent Sociologist, vol. 13, no. 5, Spring 1986, p. 71.
11. "Sovereignty of Ganienkeh: " Indigence, Winter 1974-75, p. 12.
12. "Indians Ask Protection, Get Clubs, Gassed Instead." Akwesasne Notes, Oct. 1970, pp. 1-5; "Revolt in Washington State." El Grito del Norte, 9/16/70, pp. 3, 9; El Grito del Norte, 12/7/71.
13. Desroches, Leonard. "Oil, Golf Courses and War: Discovering Weapons of the Spirit." Reconciliation International, Winter 1991-92, p. 9.
14. "People's Park." Berkeley Monitor, 5/3/69, p. 8; "Outcry! An Eight-Page Supplement on the War for People's Park:" Indianapolis Free Press, 5/30/69; Goldberg, Art. "The Battle of Berkeley:" Guardian, 6/7/69, pp. 3, 8; La Simpatica. "One Dead, 60 Wounded, 1000 Jailed, City Gassed in Fight for Land." El Grito del Norte, 6/14/69, pp. 8, 16; "Police Riot in People's Park Annex:" Berkeley Monitor, 6/14/69, pp. 1, 4; Funstenberg, Michael. "Springtime in Berkeley: People's Park Revisited:" Berkeley Monitor, 5/29/71, p. 5; Kehler, Randy. "People's Park 1969:" Win, 6/1/81, pp. 5-6.
15. People's Park Emergency Bulletin, 8/4/91, flyer; "Defend and Support People's Park." Uncommon Sense, Mar. 1992, p. 5; Matzek, Virginia. "People's Park: UC Berkeley's Development Plans Ignite Opposition." Undated flyer, circa 1993.
16. Davidson, Ellen. "N.Y.C. Cops Go Berserk At Park Demo." Guardian, 8/17/88, p. 7. The curfew was a city law covering all parks, but activists enjoyed a measure of success when the local Community Board voted to overturn the law for Tompkin's Square Park after the riot. Tompkin's became the only park in the city without a curfew. Until the early '90s, police repeatedly evicted the homeless, who usually returned after a few days (Weinberg, Bill. "New York City's Class War Zone: Police Army Invades Tompkins Square Park." Guardian, 7/17/91, pp. 10-11).
17. Workers World, 4/20/72.
18. For more on the ways in which geopolitics limit major political and economic change, see Theda Skocpol's structural theories of revolution. "The outcomes of social revolutions have always been powerfully conditioned not only by international politics, but also by the world-economic constraints and opportunities faced by emergent regimes," Skocpol observes in States and Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980, p. 23.
19. Juliao, Francisco. Cambao: The Yoke. John Butt, trans. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1972. Also see Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part II, "The Methods of Nonviolent Action." p. 408.
20. de Janvry, Alain. Agrarian Question and Reformism in Latin America. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1985, p. 219.
21. Bunster, Ximena. "The Emergence of a Mapuche Leader: Chile." In Sex and Class in Latin America: Women's Perspectives on Politics, Economics and the Family in the Third World. June Nash and Helen Icken Safa, eds. South Hadley, Massachusetts: J.E. Bergin, 1980, pp. 308-309.
22. Bermeo, Nancy Gina. "Chile 1970: " The Revolution Within the Revolution: Workers' Control in Rural Portugal. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986, pp. 210-213.
23. Currie, Elliot. "Revolt in Mexico: Peasants Defy Agribusiness." East Bay Voice, Feb. 1977, p. 9; Rivas, Cristina. "Mexico: Peasant Land Occupations Shatter Myth of Stability." Militant, 12J24/1976, p. 22.
24. The agrarian reform instituted after the Mexican revolution of 1911 ushered in the ejido system. Modeled on traditional Indian land tenure, it aimed at communauzing large estates for use by ejidatarios. These beneficiaries do not own the land and cannot sell it, but may rent it to others and bequeath it to heirs. President Venustiano Carranza announced the reform in 1915, but, with the exception of President Lazaro Cardenas in the ' 30s, it went largely unenforced. The number of ejidatarios has declined since the '60s, with fatal cutbacks by the Saunas de Gortari government in the mid-'90s as a condition of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This modern threat to ejidatarios helped precipitate the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas on January 1, 1994, the date on which NAFTA took effect.
25. Townsdin, Carl J. "Peasant Struggles Intensify." Guardian, 3/5/75, p. 15.
26. "Armed Mexican Peasants Seize Prime Land." Guardian, 10/8/75, p. 12.
27. Gellen, Karen. "Mexico: Peasants Seize Land." Guardian, 5/5/76, p. 13.
28. "Mexico: The Rich Inherit the Earth ... But the Poor Are Taking It Back." Akwesasne Notes, vol. 8, no. 5, Mid-Winter 76-77, pp. 26-27.
29. "Mexico: The Rich Inherit the Earth ...: '
30. "Mexico: The Rich Inherit the Earth ...."
31. NACLA's Latin America and Empire Report, Jul. 1976; "Bloody Land War Mounts in Northern Mexico." Black Panther, 10/2/76, pp. 19, 22; "Campesinos Continue Agrarian Revolt." Northwest Passage, 1216/76, p. 16; "Mexico: Peasant Land Occupations Shatter Myth of Stability:" Militant, 12!24/76, p. 22; Wright Morris. "Mexico Peasant Land Seizures Firm." Guardian, 1/12./77, p. 17; "Revolt in Mexico: Peasants Defy Agribusiness." East Bay Voice, Feb. 1977, p. 9; Adams, Jane. "Mexico: The Struggle for Land." Indigena, Summer 1977, pp. 28, 30; Johnson, Kirsten. "Peasant Struggles in Contemporary Mexico." Antipode, vol. 14, no. 3, 1982, pp. 39-50; Skidmore, Thomas E., and Peter H. Smith. Modern Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984, pp. 248-252.
32. van Naerssen, Ton. "Continuity and Change in the Urban Poor Movement of Manila, the Philippines." In Urban Social Movements in the Third World. Frans Schuurman and Ton van Naerssen, eds. London: Routledge, 1989, pp. 204-206.
33. Bermeo, pp. 69, 70, 71, 189.
34. Bermeo. p.78
35. Bermeo, p. 79.
36. Bermeo, p. 199.
37. Bermeo, p. 203.
38. Collins, Joseph. Nicaragua: What Difference Could a Revolution Make? Food and Farming in the New Nicaragua. New York: Grove Press, 1986, p. 28.
39. Collins, pp. 32-33.
40. Coffins, p. 43.
41. Collins, pp. 70, 76.
42. Collins, p. 81.
43. Collins, p. 247.
44. Collins, p. 147.
45. Collins, pp. 144-147.
46. Collins, p. 148.
47. Collins, p. 206.
48. de Janvry, p. 210.
49. Chomsky, Noam. Year 501: The Conquest Continues. Boston: South End Press, 1993, pp. 192, 193.
50. Rohter, Larry. "U.S. Prods Nicaragua on Seized Land." New York Times, 7/25/95, p. A4.
51. Preston, Julia. "It's Indians vs. Loggers in Nicaragua." New York Times, 6/25/96, p. A8.
52. Caster, Mark. "The Return of Somocismo? The Rise of Arnoldo Aleman." NACLAI' Report on the Americas, vol. 30, no. 2, SeptJOct. 1996, pp. 6-9; "Nicaragua's New President." New York Times, 10/23/96, pp. A3, A18.
53. Sklair, Leslie. "The Struggle Against the Housing Finance Act." Socialist Register 1975, p. 273.
54. Sklair, p. 274.
55. According to Sklair, at least in the case of the Tower Hill strike in Kirkby, "the development of solidarity and political education on the estate and outside it" cannot be described as failure (p. 274).
56. Goldberg, p. 8.
57. Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. New York: Bantam Books, 1989, p. 358.
58. Freedberg, Louis. "South Africa: Blacks Resist White Force." Africa News, 3/12/84, p. 4.
59. Scott, James. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985, p. xvi.
60. Scott, James. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.
61. Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge (ADILKNO). Cracking the Movement: Squaring Beyond the Media. Laura Martz, traps. Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1994, p. 114.
62. Sharp, Gene. Politics of Nonviolent Action. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973, p. 547.
63. "Tenant Organizer Attacked." Guardian, 8/11/71, p. 2.
64. "Colombia: Repression in the Cauca." Indigena, Summer 1974, p. 1.
65. Mayer, Margit. "The Career of Urban Social Movements in West Germany." In Mobilizing the Community: Local Politics in the Era of the Global City. Robert Fisher and Joseph Kling, eds. Urban Affairs Annual Review, vol. 41. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1993, p. 154.
66. Guatemala News and Information Bureau. "Guatemala: Peasant Massacre:" NACLA Report on the Americas Jul. 1978, pp. 44-45; "Guatemala: Peasants, Owners Clash." Guardian, 6/14/78, p. 12; Menchu, Rigoberta. 1, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. New York: Verso, 1992.
67. Stolen Laura Ann. Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumatra's Plantation Belt, 1870-1979. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985, p. 15.
68. V, Hettie. "An Africaner Rebels." In Lives of Courage: Women for a New South Af rica. Diana E.H. Russell, ed. New York: Basic Books, 1989, pp. 279-295.
69. Schemo, Diana Jean. "Rio Ex-Officer Is Convicted in Massacre of Children." New York Times, 5/1/96, p. A5.
70. Weinberg, Bill. "Cops Evict Homeless from `Dinkinsville' Shantytown." Guard ian. 10/30/91.
71. Griffin, Nicholas. "Aborigines' Tent Embassy." Peace News, 8/4/72, p. 4.
72. Liberation News Service. "Police Assault Rent Strikers in Bridgeport." Guardian 6/9/71, p. 7.
73. ADILKNO, p. 114.
74. ADILKNO, p. 121.
75. ADILKNO, p. 123.
76. ADILKNO, p. 123.
77. Branford and Glock, p. 197.
78. "Sovereignty of the Ganienkeh." Indigena, Winter 1974-1975, p. 12. Deterrence also allowed the relatively unimpeded growth of London's squatter movement after successful squatter resistance to eviction at Redbridge in 1969. See Bailey, Ron. The Squatters. Middlesex: Penguin, 1973, pp. 118-120, 154, 186.
79. Jackson, Frank, ed. Squatting in West Berlin. London: Hooligan Press, 1987, p. 8.
80. ADILKNO, P. 68.
81. ADIL,KNO, p. 70.
82. ADILKNO, P. 78.
83. ADILKNO, pp. 79-100.
84. Liberation News Service. "10,000 Tenants Strike Newark Public Housing." City Star, 8/1/73, p. 18.
85. Wolpold, Martin. Telephone interview with the author. 4/6/99.
86. Mayer, pp. 149-170.
87. In 1981, Puerto Rican squatter communities housed a total of 18,000 families (Fauteux, Danielle. "Puerto Rico Squatters Battle Squatters:" Guardian, 12/16/81, p. 18).
88. Blackstock, Nelson. "Villa Sin Miedo: A Village Without Fear." Militant, 11/20/81, p. 18.
89. Fauteux, p. 18
90. Paige, Jeffery M. Agrarian Revolution: Social Movements and Export Agriculture in the Underdeveloped World. New York: Free Press, 1975, p. 19.
91. The Zapatistas gain their name from the philosophy of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata who focused his goals on the expropriation of land for indigenous Mexicans.
92. Batt, Kevin. "Violence Erupts in Mexico's Land Wars." In These Times, 9/10/80, p. 11.
93. The CNPA named itself after Emiliano Zapata's 1911 land reform decree, the Plan of Ayala (Sanderson, Steven E. Agrarian Populism and the Mexican State: The Struggle for Land in Sonora. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981, p. 62).
94. Fox, Jonathan, and Gustavo Gordillo. "Between State and Market: the Campesinos' Quest for Autonomy." Cornelius, Wayne A., Judith Gentleman, and Peter H. Smith, eds. Mexico's Alternative Political Futures. San Diego: Center for U.S: Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, 1989, p. 148.
95. Interview with Subcommander Marcos in iZapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution. Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1994, pp. 150-151.
96. Interview with Major Ana Maria in ;Zapatistas! pp. 228-229. See also Menchu for the description of how an indigenous squatter community turned to guerrilla tactics and hostage-taking in response to repression and hunger.
97. Toledo, Rebecca. "Zapatistas Inspire Strikes, Takeovers:" EZLN E-Mail Reader, Feb. 1994, p. 3; Antonio Garcia de Leon, lecture at the IberoAmerican University in Mexico City. February 1994. Traps. Centro de Reflexion Teologica. As reprinted in EZLN E-Mail Reader, Feb. 1994, pp. 8-11.
98. Lingo, Tracey. "La Lucha Sigue: Understanding the Connections Between Campesino Unions and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas." Unpublished thesis. Reed College, 1997.
99. Thaxton, Ralph. "Mao Zedong, Red Miserables, and the Moral Economy of Peasant Rebellion in Modern China." In Power and Protest in the Countryside: Rural Unrest in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Robert P. Weller and Scott E. Guggenheim, eds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989, p. 149.
100. Boahen, A. Adu. African Perspectives on Colonialism. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992, p. 65.
101. Palmer, Robin. Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977, p. 89.
102. Kanogo, Tabitha. Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau. Nairobi: Heinemann, 1987.
103. wa Kinyatti, Maina, ed. Thunder from the Mountains: Mau Mau Patriotic Songs. London: Zed press, 1980, p. 19.
104. Palmer, pp. 70, 244-246.
105. Denoeux, Guilain. Urban Unrest in the Middle East: A Comparative Study of Informal Networks in Egypt, Iran, and Lebanon. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993, p. 211.
106. Ruland, J. "Political Change, Urban Services and Social Movements: Political Participation and Grassroots Politics in Metro Manila." Public Administration and Development, vol. 4, pp. 325-333.
107. van Naerssen, Ton. Letter to the author. 7/29/96.
108. Schuurman and van Naerssen, p. 20.
109. Stokes, Susan C. "Politics and Latin America's Urban Poor: Reflections from a Lima Shantytown." Latin American Research Review, vol. 26, 1991, pp. 355-35.
110. Capek, Stella M., and John Gilderbloom. Community versus Commodity: Tenants and the American City. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992, pp. 2122.
111. Vague, Tom. The Red Army Faction Story, 1963-1993. Edinburgh: AK Press, 1994, pp. 94, 98.
112. Aust, Stefan. The Baader-Meinhof Group: The Inside Story of a Phenomenon. Anthea Bell, traps. London: Bodley Head, 1987, p. 289.
113. Jackson, p. 8.
114. Red Army Faction. "Communique on the Assassination of Detlev Rohwedder, President of the Treuhandanstalt, in Diisseldorf on 1 April 1991," and "Communique, dated 10 April 1992, Offering to Suspend the RAF's Terrorist Campaign against the German State." Reprinted in Alexander, Yonah, and Dennis A. Pluchinsky. Europe's Red Terrorists: The Fighting Communist Organizations. London: Frank Cass and Company, 1992, pp. 83, 88.
115. McClung Lee, Alfred. Terrorism in Northern Ireland. Bayside, NY: General Hall, 1983, p. 94.
116. Some would dispute the use of the term "terrorist group" to identify the FALN, arguing that a term such as "revolutionary group" or "freedom fighters" is more accurate. By using the term "terrorist organization," I do not condemn the FALN, but only differentiate it from revolutionary groups like the FMLN, the Zapatistas, the pre-1979 Sandinistas, and other larger groups that hold territory and can credibly threaten to overthrow the reigning government. In my application of "terrorism" to the FALN, I follow Martha Crenshaw's definition: "the systematic use of unorthodox political violence by small conspiratorial groups with the purpose of manipulating political attitudes rather than physically defeating an enemy .... Terrorism is premeditated and purposeful violence, employed in a struggle for political power" (Crenshaw. Terrorism, Legitimacy, and Power: The Consequences of Political Violence. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1983, p. 2). Crenshaw's definition applies to the Boston Tea Party and the French Resistance as much as to the FALN.
117. Fernandez, Ronald. Prisoners of Colonialism: The Struggle for Justice in Puerto Rico. Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1994, p. 174.
118. Fernandez, pp. 173-175.
119. Boahen, pp. 7, 66; Ansprenger, Franz. The Dissolution of the Colonial Empires. London: Routledge, 1989, pp. 198-200.
120. Fortunate Eagle, Adam. Alcatraz! Alcatraz! The Indian Occupation of 1969-1971. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1992, p. 147.
121. Fortunate Eagle, p. 150.
122. Greider, William. "U.S. Had Warning of Indian Wrath on Fishing Rights." Washington Post, 9/5/70, p. A3
123. Smith, Robert. "Indians Need U.S. Legal Aid, Says Kennedy:" Akwesasne Notes, Nov. 1970, p. 7.
124. Dewing, Rolland. Wounded Knee: The Meaning and Significance of the Second Incident. New York: Irvington Publishers, 1985, p. 350.
125. Fortunate Eagle, p. 150.
126. National Zapatista Liberation Army (Ejercito Zapatista Liberacion Nacional). "Revolutionary Agrarian Law." EL Despertador Mexicano, Dec. 1993, reprinted in Resist, 1/21/94, pp. 7-10.; Toledo, p. 3.; Nonviolent Activist, May 1994.
127. Ross, John. "Land Battles Continue After Chiapas Uprising." Latinamerica Press, 9/29/94, p. 15.
128. Ross, p. 15. For a similar example in Bolivia during the 1952 Movimiento Nacional Revolucionaria, see Paige, Jeffery M. Agrarian Revolution: Social Movements and Export Agriculture in the Underdeveloped World (New York: Free Press, 1975). According to Paige, "the Bolivian peasantry destroyed the entire system of landed estates in less than a year and a half of concentrated land invasions. Landlords fled to the cities, and most of the countryside passed into the hands of the peasants" (p. 44).
129. Preston, Julia. "Mexico and Insurgent Group Reach Pact on Indian Rights." New York Times, 2/15/96, p. A12.
130. Bermeo, p. 9.
131. Eckstein, Susan. "The Impact of Revolution on Social Welfare in Latin America." In Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies. Jack A. Gladstone, ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986, p. 290.
132. Cited in Joselit, Jenna. "Tenant Strikes of the Early 1900s." Shelter orce, Winter 1979, p. 15.
133. Eckstein, Susan. Power and Popular Protest: Latin American Social Movements. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, p. 15.
134. Collins, p. 27.
135. Claiborne, William. "Officials Act to Break Soweto Rent Boycott." Washington Post, 11/19/87, p. A45; Claiborne, William. "Power Cut In Bid to End Rent Strike in Soweto: " Washington Post, 7/8/88, p. A16. Kraft, Scott. "With Landlord at Door, Strike Becomes Unhinged." Los Angeles Times, 7/3/88, pp. 1, 24; Battersby, John D. "Blacks Pressing a Rent Boycott in South Africa." New York Times (New York Late Edition), 2/22/88, pp. Al, A8; Grandino, Marc. "Mass Rent Boycotts." Flyer, Santa Cruz, CA, 1990.
136. Hornsby, Michael. "Inquest to Look at Soweto Violence." Times (London), 8/29/86, pp. 1, 5.
137. Chaskelson, Matthew, Karen Jochelson, and Jeremy Seekings. "Rent Boycotts, The State, and the Transformation of the Urban Political Economy in South Africa." Review of African Political Economy, vol. 40, Dec. 1987, pp. 47-64; Moeti, Sello. "Resisting the Emergency of Botha's Generals: The Case of Rent Boycotts." Sechaba, vol. 21, no. 2, Feb. 1987, pp. 23-28; Press Trust. "A Most Bloody Assault on Soweto Rent Boycott." Guardian, 9/10/86, p. 13.
138. Daley, Suzanne. "Country Club in Revolt Over Post-Apartheid Taxes." New York Times, 1/8/97, p. A4.
139. Raghavan, Sudarsan. "Rural Black Squatters Battling Homeowners: South Africa's Homeless Problem." San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3/96, p. A10.
140. Daley, Suzanne. "South Africa Losing Battle to House Homeless." New York Times, 5/3/96, p. A10.
142. Daley, Suzanne. "Seeing Bias in Their Utility Rates, Mixed-Race South Africans Riot." New York Times, 2/7/97, p. A15.
143. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). Survey of Slum and Squatter Settlements. Development Studies Series, vol. 1. Nairobi: UNCHS, 1982, p. 186.
144. Carlessi, Carolina. "The Reconquest." NACIA: Report on the Americas, vol. 23, no. 4, NOV./Dec. 1989, p. 15.
145. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, p. 96.
146. Cotto, Liliana. "The Rescate Movement: An Alternative Way of Doing Politics." In Colonial Dilemma: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Puerto Rico. Edwin Melendez and Edgardo Melendez, eds. Boston: South End Press, 1993, p. 129.
147. See Jackson for photographs and first person accounts of West Berlin squatting in the 1980s.
148. Mayer, p. 159; New York Times, 1/5/96, p. 4
149. Mayer, p.164.
150. "Indian Occupation Wins Abbey." Great Speckled Bird, 2,/13/75, p. 9.
151. Dewing, p. 306.
152. Eckstein, Power and Popular Protest, p. 23.
153. Carlessi, p.14.
154. Rosen, Charles. Telephone interview with the author. 8/1/94.
155. Tasker, Mary, and Woody Widrow. "Rent Strikers Withholding $25 Million." 14. Shelterforce, Mar. 1976, p. 1.
156. Gomick, Vivian. "The 60,000 Rent Strikers At Coop City." Liberation, Spring 1976, p. 37.
157. Quoted in Tasker and Widrow, p. 1.
158. Mattera, Philip, and Donna Demac. "Keeping the Wolf Out of Co-op City." In These Times, 8/31/77, p. 4.
159. Bush, Larry. "Co-op City Rent Strike Settled." Shelterforce, Fall 1976, p. 10.
160. Bush, p. 10.
161. See Anderson, Leslie. The Political Ecology of the Modern Peasant. (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1994).