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Follow-up on the Recommendations of the International Tribunal on Evictions. Case: South America, Ecuador, Guayaquil - Monte Sinaí and neighbouring areas

Monitoreo de las Recomendaciones del Tribunal Internacional de Desalojos. Caso: América del Sur, Ecuador, Guayaquil – Monte Sinai y zonas aledañas

Misión TIE Guayaquil, ECUADOR (15 octubre 2016)

Fifth Session of the International Tribunal on Evictions

(Ecuador, October 15-17 of October of 2016)

Follow-up on the Recommendations  

Case: South America, Ecuador, Guayaquil - Monte Sinaí and neighbouring areas

On developments in the Monte Sinaí process

On 15th  October 2016, within the framework of the Habitat III World Conference and as part of the activities of the counter-event Resistance to Habitat III, the International Tribunal on Evictions visited two of the communities in Guayaquil that filed complaints, Monte Sinaí and Casas Colectivas. The visit of the Tribunal, was achieved through the work carried out by the Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations from the month of April of the same year in which, after participating in a preparatory meeting of Resistance to Habitat III in Quito, we requested for the Tribunal to come to Guayaquil to carry out an on-site analysis of the problem. This would also strengthen the community threatened and intimidated by the authorities and by the continuous evictions. According to official figures, a total of 5234 families were evicted from January 2011 to January 2016.

During three months of preparatory activities, we organised visits to each organisation/local community. In these visits, together with colleagues, we reflected upon the necessity of organisation and unity when facing evictions, authorities’ violations of constitutional norms and international treaties, as well as interests, following evictions, in imposing a neo-liberal agenda as regards house policy. This basic formula was what encouraged community participation, despite our fears, as some of our leaders have been imprisoned as a result of the struggle. Hence, it is with a very specific agenda that we come to the day of the event.

On 15th  October 2016, a large Assembly was organised to receive the mission of the Tribunal. It was widely published and had a good level of participation, despite facing threats from local authorities to suspend the visit of the International Tribunal of Evictions, an example of the siege experienced by this community since 2010. We also visited the neighbourhoods affected by evictions and the ongoing projects that cause the evictions.

Then, we moved to Quito to participate in the Resistance to Habitat III event, where Monte Sinaí was represented by about 40 leaders. This was a suitable setting in which to integrate its local fight into the national struggle (Muisne, East, Quito) and the global struggle for the defence of territory.

It was a unique experience that allowed the inhabitants of this sector in the Northwest of the city of Guayaquil to become empowered and feel supported internationally. Colleagues established ties with organisations from other countries, which opened their eyes to an international problem and struggle. Once the activities of the Tribunal and Resistance to Habitat III in Quito were completed, we returned to Guayaquil, where we soon had to take to the streets again.

What has happened in Monte Sinaí since the visit of the International Tribunal on Evictions?

In November 2016, we faced new evictions but this time we were strong and with our structure more consolidated, which enabled us to confront them on several fronts:

a)  Sharing the recommendations made by the International Tribunal on Evictions

b)  A communications campaign was carried out https://www.facebook.com/SoyMonteSinai/

c)  The World Zero Evictions Campaign Monte Sinaí, Guayaquil, Ecuador  was carried out via the

virtual platform of the International Alliance of Inhabitants, meaning that communications could directly reach the authorities of MIDUVI and IDB, financier of the Las Marias project, which caused the evictions.

Through these actions, the project manager and the social technician of the Las Marias project were changed and the evictions ended.

At the same time, the DISCUSSION TABLE was set up with the Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations, under the coordination of Manuel Orellana and the government of Guayas, which developed several actions:

(a) Ratification of NO TO EVICTIONS in Monte Sinaí, particularly the eviction of traders and families living on the main streets where the project is carried out. The slogan was: "tailor the project to the reality of the community instead of making the community adapt to the project".

(b) Reformatory Act to Law 88 on the legalisation of Monte Sinaí, since this law was passed in the year 2013 due to political pressure and currently does not reflect the reality of the sector, moving the shadow of evictions away from the thousands of families in the sector. This reformatory act extended recognition of occupancy to families who live on the land, until 28th  April 2017. This integrates 12 thousand families, who would've otherwise been evicted, into the legalisation process. It changes the land use from residential to residential + trade, because the existing law only legalised housing and those who had work areas within their house were excluded. This means that 6,000 cases of house-business are recognised as such, with the right to legalisation. It was approved in May 2017.

(c) The enactment of regulations of the amended Law 88, (June 2017)

(d) Action against the Governor for the release of our colleague Guato, political prisoner of Monte Sinaí. We asked for him to be pardoned from his five-year sentence. He regained his freedom in September 2017.

2. The popular resistance against evictions in Monte Sinaí was picked up by all political parties in a tough election campaign; all changed their discourse of "evictions" to "legalisation". With the change of government, and in the midst of a political conflict within the party itself, the FULFILMENT OF ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN PROMISES in Monte Sinaí concerning the legalisation of land and strengthening of the HOUSING FOR ALL governmental programme in were accelerated, for which:

(a) A census and document collection were carried out for the legalisation process, with teams on-site.

b) The new Minister for Housing recognised the Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations as a spokesperson in discussions with the population and established PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES in the sector, held every 15 days, to evaluate progress in the legalisation process. According to reports by MIDUVI, 3,000 land register codes are already recognised by the municipality, are to be turned into deeds.

c) The Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations meets every 8 days with Assemblyman Héctor Yépez, President of the Commission for Citizen Participation and Social Control of the National Assembly, in order to follow up on the actions developed by the Ministry of Housing MIDUVI in the sector.

d)  Despite progress, a new danger remains in Monte Sinaí - RELOCATIONS. In order to free up land for the Housing for All programme launched by the Government, around 160 families in the Las María and Cerro Alto sectors are being notified about relocations under the pretext of the risky situation. For this reason, in Monte Sinaí we will not let our guard down until we are guaranteed security of land tenure which, for most of the population, is the legalisation of the land.

3. As part of the activities of organisational strengthening and action for the regulation of the sector in favour of its current tenants, a hearing against urban and rural evictions took place, promoted by several organisations: Acción Ecológica, human rights, the Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations y Todos Somos Monte Sinaí (We are all Monte Sinaí). This happened on 25th  November 2017, and it ratified the recommendations made by the International Tribunal on Evictions in 2016. It also helped to establish links and solidarity with other communities that are also affected by evictions, dispossession and relocations off their territory. Having made Monte Sinaí a topic of local and international public opinion, we were invited to participate in the binational meeting HERMANADOS POR LA PAZ CON DIGNIDAD Y JUSTICIA SOCIAL (United for Peace with Dignity and Social Justice), on 8th , 9th  and 10th  December, in Pimampiro, Imbabura, Ecuador.

4. Parallel to this, at the initiative of Hogar de Cristo and with the support of the Observatory of Public Services, 31 leaders were trained as overseers, accredited by the Council for Social Control and Citizen Participation. From 1st  December 2017, for 6 months, the overseers will monitor the process of land legalisation in Monte Sinaí, broadening the objective to oversee all government actions in Monte Sinaí, including evictions and relocations.

What are the results of the process of implementing the Recommendations of the Tribunal?

  1. The unification of various organisations under the single organisation TODOS SOMOS MONTE SINAI (we are all Monte Sinaí), with a shared goal: the security of land tenancy and access to housing and services.
  2. The fact that this process has been carried out by the leaders themselves and has received the support and solidarity of various institutions. 
  3. Our success in making the authorities of MIDUVI, the Technical Secretary for Irregular Settlements and the Government of Guayas recognise the Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations as a spokesperson at the discussion tables that were set up to monitor the process of land legalisation and other projects in Monte Sinaí.
  4. The fact that we managed to bring about reforms to Law 88 and its regulations, which covers all current occupants of Monte Sinai until May 2017, and not only those that had been registered by the government up until December 2010.
  5. Progress in the legalisation process concerning 3,000 pieces of land that already have land register codes.
  6. We are promoting the construction of the Communal House. Its land was granted to the Monte Sinaí Network of Organisations. Plastering work has been started.
  7. Our success in ensuring that our colleague Guato, who was unjustly imprisoned, is now free.
  8. An overseeing body was established, recognised by the Council for Citizen Participation (government office), on the process of land legalisation. 
  9. We form part of a Leaders’ Training School, which provides training on the complex reality of Monte Sinaí, but also is making progress in consolidating an inhabitants’ movement in Guayaquil.

These positive results must be consolidated. For this reason, we must continue our fight to implement the Recommendations made by the International Tribunal on Evictions concerning local mobilisation and international solidarity.

Il(la) Traduttore(trice) Volontario(a) per il diritto alla casa senza frontiere dell’IAI che ha collaborato con la traduzione di questo testo è

Vicky Cox


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