Many neo-Weberians adopt the state’s authority-monopolizing aim as their theoretical expectation. Through a case study of the Peruvian state and Lima’s squatter settlements, I provide evidence in support of the opposite contention: that states may unintentionally produce non-state extractive-coercive organizations. During the mid- to late-twentieth century, Lima’s population grew rapidly. Since they had few economic resources, the new urban poor requisitioned public lands and set up dozens of squatter settlements in the city’s periphery. Other researchers have identified several novel political phenomena stemming from such urban conditions. I focus here on the impact of the state. Using secondary and primary data, I examine three periods during which the state applied distinct settlement policies and one in which it did not apply a settlement policy, from 1948 to 1980. I find that when it applied each of the settlement policies, the state produced non-state political authorities – neighborhood elites – who extracted resources from squatters and tried to control neighborhood turf even against state encroachment, and that the state’s non-involvement did not produce them.
Newman, S.J. (2019), "The State’s Unintentional Production of Turf-controlling Neighborhood Elites in Twentieth Century Lima, Peru", The Politics of Land (Research in Political Sociology, Vol. 26), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 15-37. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0895-993520190000026006Download as .RIS
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Weber bequeathed us with an organizational conception of the state and indicated that these extractive-coercive organizations attempt to monopolize authority within a given territory ( 1946, p. 78, 1978a, p. 54). Reactions have been myriad. Some researchers seek to deny that state organizations have such abilities, highlighting how bureaus and bureaucrats may be incapable or unwilling to toe the line (e.g., Gupta, 1995; Lipsky, 1980). Others grant the power of the state organization but deny that they can monopolize political authority over society, pointing to myriad exceptions to that hypothesis (e.g., Migdal, 1988; Scott, 1998). Meanwhile, an army of neo-Weberians adopt the organizational definition of the state and also take the state organization’s aims as their theoretical expectation.
In this analysis, I also adopt an organizational conception of the state, but I turn the neo-Weberian theoretical expectation on its head. Rather than monopolize political authority, the organization that we call a state may unintentionally generate other land-bound extractive-coercive organizations, not because society is strong enough to resist it or because bureau(crat)s disobey, but as an unintended consequence of the state’s society-shaping attempts themselves. Insistence on the importance of unintended consequences is far from novel to social theory. Insisting on their importance yet again, though, may help make room for an underappreciated kind of sociology of the state (cf. Kohli & Shue, 1994).
Mann (1984, 1993) elaborates the most prominent extension of Weberian state theory. He maintains that the locus of “infrastructural power” – the capacity to logistically implement decisions – shifts back and forth between the state and civil society, and tends to increase, over time. Accordingly, once a policy is adopted and applied, it may create constituencies who demand that it continue (Campbell, 2003, 2012; Pierson, 1993); such policy constituencies represent the state organization’s ability to create a following that applauds its (past) actions and may even prevent it from changing course in the future. In a similar vein, societal actors – such as “private attorneys general” (Novak, 2008, p. 769) or “progovernment militias” (Carey & Mitchell, 2017) – may do “the state’s job” for it. While such pro-state behavior may be surprising or unexpected to researchers, when considered in view of the state’s aims, they are not unintended.
In addition to theorizing infrastructural power, Mann appraised “despotic power”: the ability to compel obedience with no further questions asked. Whereas infrastructural power tended to increase over time (just as Weber thought the state tended to monopolize authority within a territory), Mann (1984, p. 192) observed no discernible over-time pattern with respect to despotic power. However, we may be justified in using Mann’s concepts to posit an additional hypothesis: state attempts to increase infrastructural power may (unintentionally) strengthen societal despotic powers. In what follows, I provide evidence in support of this non-Weberian contention. I show that, in the context of rapid and extensive urban growth, state organization attempts to shape squatter settlements from 1948 to 1980 in Lima, Peru, unintentionally generated neighborhood elites capable of extracting resources from residents based on their (attempted) control of turf.
Over the course of the twentieth century, Latin America saw “great internal migrations” (Germani, 1978, p. 36) in which rural inhabitants flocked to major cities, resulting in massive and unprecedented urban growth. Since they found few remunerative jobs, rather than buy homes, these new urban denizens requisitioned land and formed thousands of squatter settlements, known in Peru during these years as barriadas and pueblos jóvenes. A large literature tries to capture aspects of the phenomenon of overurbanization and the novel political practices and dynamics to which it gave rise. In her comparative research on Santiago, Bogotá, and Lima, Holland (2017) argues that state organizations tolerate the urban poor when they transgress legal codes because this bolsters politicians’ support. In his analysis of shantytown politics in Manila (which also experienced overurbanization), Garrido (2017) demonstrates how the urban poor may support populist leaders whose policies contravene their interests because they perceive them to be sincere. In his study of Menem-era Buenos Aires, Auyero (2000) studies the problem of political intermediation, especially the role of party brokers. Taking a bottom-up approach, his focus is mainly on how and why the urban poor support them. Here, I focus on a similar kind of political intermediaries, whom I call neighborhood elites. I assume the process of urban expansion is a mere background condition in order to train my attention on the role of the state in producing neighborhood elites.
In most squatter settlements throughout Latin America, some kind of neighborhood association was established in order to coordinate residents to resolve local problems and mediate between the new urban poor and the state organization. Many of the major case studies of Latin American urban politics find that such neighborhood associations and their leaders were or are central to the process of politically incorporating the new urban poor (e.g., Álvarez Rivadulla, 2017, Chapter 6; Auyero, 2000, Chapter 3; Azuela, 1989, pp. 85–86, 91, 94, 97–104, 112, 126–27; Castells, 1983, pp. 201; Cornelius, 1975, pp. 135–65, 182–97; de Sousa Santos, 1977, pp. 40–49, 89–90, 103; Dosh, 2010, passim; Eckstein, 1977, Chapter 3; Fischer, 2008, pp. 239–41, 246–52; Gay, 1994, passim; Karst, Schwartz, & Schwartz, 1973, Chapter 6; Ollivier, 2017, Chapter 3; Perlman, 1976, pp. 184–85; Ray, 1969, pp. 59–63, 68–70; Roberts, 1973, pp. 307–30). But for the most part, these works consider neighborhood associations in genetic isolation from the state organization. Ray (1969) and Cornelius (1975) consider them to be a traditional form of political authority grafted into the new urban context. Karst et al. (1973) and de Sousa Santos (1977) conceive of them as alternative legal authorities parallel to state judiciaries. Castells (1983) and Dosh (2010) see them as crucial actors in urban social movements. Gay (1994, pp. 35–60, 101–12) and Álvarez Rivadulla (2017, Chapter 6) show how they can be skillful opportunists who temporarily sell the urban poor’s political support to the politician or party who promises the most for the settlement.
I examine how state interventions into squatter settlements – viz., the application of settlement policies – unintentionally reinforced neighborhood association leaders’ power, making them neighborhood elites. As with other states in the region, successive Peruvian governments responded variously to the phenomenon of overurbanization, cycling through repression, remaining aloof, and trying to shape squatter settlements by applying settlement policies. The Peruvian governments that opted to apply a settlement policy unintentionally generated neighborhood elites, while those who opted for repression or to remain aloof did not. Neighborhood elites were powerful in that they were capable of extracting some resources from the community and of exerting partial control over settlement turf. Although their power never rivaled that of the Peruvian state organization, neighborhood elites did sometimes use their power to oppose it.
The State as Regimes
Not all theories of states posit state organizations, much less ones that try to monopolize political authority. But for Weberians, state organizations do. Analogously, this analysis focuses on how such organizations unintentionally generated non-state political authorities. The literature suggests that state organizations manifest as at least three kinds of regimes – patrimonial, liberal, and corporatist – each of which is characterized by a distinct form of political intermediation. According to the neo-Weberian theoretical expectation of the state’s monopolization of political authority, these intermediaries are not supposed to become powers unto themselves.
Patrimonial regimes are based on informal and unequal relationships between political elites, who own and control the land and do not permit of formal-legal rights, and subordinates, who do not, therefore, enjoy such rights. These relationships are typically mediated by honoratiories (Weber, 1978b, pp. 1055–59) who, according to the patrimonial ruler, are supposed to remain his deputies, not become independent authorities. Viewed from the top-down, such arrangements are unencumbered by laws and binding checks and balances (Linz, 1970, p. 255; Weber, 1978b, p. 1006); viewed from the bottom-up, subjects are supposed to deliver rulers “personal, bodily fealty” (Anderson, 1974, p. 409).
Liberal regimes seek to protect or enhance the institution of private property. In Lockean fashion, they may thusly consecrate a mixture of labor and land. Scholars assert that such policies serve to preserve or promote the spontaneous emergence of third-sector organizations or spheres of sociability, which serve as a buffer between the state organization and individuals or families, to preempt the state organization’s domination (Kornhauser, 1959, pp. 62, 78, 123; Putnam, 1993, p. 167). As buffers, such organizations and spheres are not themselves supposed to be sources of political authority.
Corporatist regimes try to systematically integrate all societal interests (deemed worthy) into mutually exclusive, state-approved organizations in exchange for access to public resources (cf. Schmitter, 1974, pp. 93–94). Some assert that this is the foremost way to prevent conflicts between different sectors of society and between society and the state organization (Schmitter, 1981). Like patrimonialism, such regimes are not spontaneous, but rather organized from the top-down; but like liberalism, they try to take account of interests emanating from society so that parts of society do not turn against the regime.
In most of Latin America during the mid- to late-twentieth century, some kind of patrimonialism, some kind of liberalism, or some kind of corporatism obtained. In Peru, each kind of regime controlled the state organization in succession. Due to the context in which they exercised state power, they each produced unintended consequences. These regimes tried to monopolize political authority, to be sure, but they actually generated it. As a result of their interventions, their respective political intermediaries became non-state political authorities unto themselves: neighborhood elites.
Non-state Political Authority
Neighborhood elites are one kind among a universe of non-state political authorities. As prominent research has found with respect to US street gangs (Sánchez-Jankowski, 1991), the Sicilian mafia (Gambetta, 1993), Latin American guerrillas (Wickham-Crowley, 1987), and Afghani chieftains (Sinno, 2008), neighborhood elites at least sometimes oppose the state organization. However, neighborhood elites are distinct from each of these other forms of non-state political authority. Unlike US gangs and the Sicilian mafia, neighborhood elites’ primary activity is political, not economic. 1 And unlike Latin American guerrillas and Afghani chieftains, they are an urban phenomenon, not a rural one. 2
More generally, elites are state and non-state agents with the capacity to appropriate resources and control distinct organizations (Lachmann, 2000, p. 9). Non-state elites can use power amassed on this basis to oppose the state organization and other non-state elites. By modifying this term with the adjective “neighborhood,” I mean to denote that such elites’ power stems from their control of turf. Thus, neighborhood elites are non-state organizations that appropriate resources from squatters, that try to control neighborhood turf, and that at least sometimes oppose the state organization.
The clientelism literature provides several explanations for neighborhood elites’ power. Unfortunately, they are less than satisfactory. One considers them to be a traditional form of political authority likely destined for extinction with political modernization (Cornelius, 1975; Hicken, 2011, p. 297; Scott, 1969). I call this the residual ruralism hypothesis. 3 A second suggests that the urban poor fall into line with neighborhood elites because it is the rational thing to do to improve their life chances (Auyero, 2000; Gay, 1994). I call this the rational-client hypothesis.
The problem with both accounts is that they fail to transcend “weak state” theory. Neo-Hobbesians and neo-Weberians argue that the state organization’s authority comes at the expense of non-state political authority in a zero-sum game (Centeno, 2002; Huntington, 1968; Tilly, 1985, 1990). Residual ruralists essentially echo them by implying that political modernization, in which the application of state-crafted policies looms large, would undermine neighborhood elites’ power. Meanwhile, neo-Weberians define political development as a process in which the state organization becomes increasingly relevant for the life chances of members of society (e.g., Centeno, 2002; Centeno, Kohli, & Yashar, 2017; Mann, 1993; Soifer, 2008, 2015). Insofar as this is the case, rational-client theory implies that neighborhood elites, to whom clients gravitate out of concern for their life chances, would lose power insofar as the state becomes increasingly important for their life chances.
Contrary to such “weak state” theory, however, I find that neighborhood elites’ power stemmed from the state organization’s interventions, not its absence. The analysis to follow is dedicated to providing evidence that this was the case. However, it may be worthwhile to first provide an analytic outline of how state interventions generated neighborhood elites. Whenever the state organization decided to apply a settlement policy, local leaders were confronted with an opportunity. By identifying with and involving themselves in the state’s intervention (be it patrimonial, liberal, or corporatist), they became intermediaries (be they brokers, association leaders, or civil society elites). But rather than remain mere intermediaries, they capitalized on their position by sometimes compelling obedience among residents (seen from the fact that they extracted some resources from them) and used their ability to sometimes exert control in the squatter settlement to challenge state authority (by trying to control turf).
Overurbanization in Peru
Why examine the state organization’s unintentional generation of neighborhood elites in twentieth century Lima, Peru? By 2003, Latin America and the Caribbean was the most urbanized region in the developing world, with 75.8 percent of its total population living in cities. Its slum population was 31.9 percent of its urban population, comparable to the world average of 31.6 percent (UNHSP, 2004, Table 1.3). Thus, this region was more advanced than the rest of the developing world in the universal trend toward greater urbanization, while it was similar to world averages in relative prevalence of squatter settlements.
Peru is consistent with this pattern and perhaps iconic in the region in terms of such “overurbanization.” As with the rest of Latin America, Peru urbanized rapidly during the mid- and late-twentieth century. In 1950, an estimated 41 percent of its population lived in urban areas; in 1960, 46.8 percent; in 1970, 57.4 percent; in 1980, 64.6 percent; and in 1990, 68.9 percent (United Nations, 2014). A large part of the urban growth was concentrated in the primate city of Lima. And since there was little economic development, the state organization provided very little social housing (Gyger, 2013; Kahatt, 2015), meaning much of that urban growth translated into squatter settlements. Table 1 summarizes the size of Lima’s squatter population from the 1950s to the 1980s. It shows that the relative size of squatter settlements increased significantly in each decade, growing from eight percent of the city’s population in 1956 to 38 percent in 1989.
|Year||Population||Percentage of City Population Living in Squatter Settlements|
|In City||In Squatter Settlements|
Source: Gilbert (1998, p. 82, Table 5.1).
Peruvian governments responded with a full array of possible reactions. Besides periods of repression, state responses took the form of distinct settlement policies according to the regime’s patrimonial, liberal, or corporatist character; each of them generated neighborhood elites. One government responded with neither repression nor a settlement policy, allowing growth of squatter settlements but failing to produce neighborhood elites.
Method and Data
I use secondary and primary sources to reconstruct Peruvian governments’ approaches to and effects on squatter settlements from 1948 to 1980. Since I cover so many years and aim to describe and explain general patterns, I rely heavily on the scholarly literature. But I also use published primary sources and primary sources culled from archives in Peru, England, and the United States for specific facts and additional details not found in the scholarly literature, especially pertaining to the period of the Fernando Belaúnde Terry government (1963–1968).
The archives from which I draw evidence are the Archivo Republicano of the Archivo General de la Nación in Lima, Peru (AGN); the Francis Violich Latin American Urban Planning Collection, University of California, Berkeley, United States (FVC); the Records of the Agency for International Development, US National Archive at College Park, Maryland, United States (NACP); and the John Francis Charlewood Turner Collection, University of Westminster, London, England (JTC).
How the Peruvian State organization Unintentionally Produced Neighborhood Elites
Peruvian governments’ reactions to the proliferation of squatter settlements differed along several dimensions. First, they had to decide whether or not to repress urban land invaders. Second, when they opted not to repress them, these governments had to decide what kind of land – private land, public land, or both – they would allow squatters to occupy. Third, they had to decide whether they would promote self-help solutions to housing. Fourth, they had to decide whether – and if so, how – to organize squatters politically. Finally, they had to decide if they would promise to recognize squatters’ property rights.
The governments that held power during the 1948–1980 period varied from one another in one or more of these ways. Those who opted not to repress but rather to craft and apply settlement policies – the General Manuel A. Odría, Manuel Prado Ugarteche, and General Juan Velasco Alvarado governments – allowed squatters to invade land without insurmountably brutal repression, corralled them toward public land, and then took different positions on the questions of promoting self-help, organizing squatters politically, and promising them property rights. These distinct settlement policies each unintentionally generated neighborhood elites. Two governments – the military junta in power from 1962 to 1963 and the General Francisco Morales Bermúdez governments – brutally repressed squatters, trying to prevent them from requisitioning more land; they, a fortiori, did not produce neighborhood elites. Finally, the Fernando Belaúnde Terry government largely watched on as squatter settlements formed on public land; he neither promoted self-help, organized squatters politically, nor promised them property property rights, and therefore also did not unintentionally generate neighborhood elites. I cover each government’s approach – and how it did or did not generate neighborhood elites – in chronological order.
Patrimonial Settlement Policy and its Effects
General Manuel A. Odría opted not to suppress the formation of squatter settlements (Collier, 1976, p. 58). Since he sought the support of the urban poor to face off against the political opposition and consolidate his reign, the president instead promoted them (Collier, 1976, pp. 61–2; Meneses Rivas, 1998, pp. 117–19). He channeled land invasions toward public land, establishing a tradition that continued through the Odría administration and the other governments I survey below (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 90, 92–93; SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 18), and that justified this and subsequent governments’ refusal to provide public housing. He did not promote self-help. Moreover, rather than allow or promote political autonomy, Odría required that squatters join neighborhood associations controlled by his allies (Collier, 1976, pp. 59–60), allowing these leaders to distribute plots (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 94). 4 In exchange for allowing them to control access to land, neighborhood association leaders occasionally mobilized squatters for pro-Odría political rallies (Collier, 1976, pp. 61–62). 5 Important to Odría’s settlement policy was that he allowed the urban poor to use – but not to own – residential property. This made them squatters and kept them in a position of informal dependency vis-à-vis the president (Collier, 1976, p. 62). As one put it, “Thanks to Odría, we have [this district]” (Degregori et al., 1986, p. 135, emphasis added). 6
Odría’s settlement policy was patrimonial. At its core was an unequal relationship between the president and the urban poor in which the latter did not have rights to the relevant goods, but nonetheless sometimes secured them. One squatter vividly described her experience with this policy:
But due to the scale of the urban growth that occurred during this period, Odría was incapable of developing or maintaining many such particularistic relationships with the urban poor himself, at least insofar as they pertained to land.
When we just arrived to San Martín de Porres [Odría’s darling squatter district] and my husband was sick […] Odría had just come to power. I went to […] the house of the President, and I told him that my husband was very bad, that I already had three children. So he gave me a letter […] and directed me to the Insurance, and at the Insurance they immediately sent a doctor to my house […] with vitamins and milk for my kids. He gave [my spouse] shots, […] a saliva test, everything, X-rays—he ordered everything. (Degregori et al., 1986, p. 135)
Odría allowed neighborhood association leaders to assume the power to adjudicate access to land in exchange for channeling the urban poor’s support to his advantage. This created a category of brokers, thereby impacting the sociopolitical structure of squatter settlements formed during Odría’s rule. Brokers used their intermediary positions to extract resources from resident-members by “ask[ing] for money in exchange for a piece of land on which to live” (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 17; see also Matos Mar, 1977, p. 194). As the leaders of neighborhood associations, they were able to do so, in part, because the communities needed to collectively save to fund public goods themselves; but they also did so to extract rent from squatters (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 74). Some leaders complained that resident-members failed to pay their association dues (Matos Mar, 1977, p. 216); some resident-members thought that the “shameless” association leaders “milked [them] dry of the money that they asked for in dues” (Matos Mar, 1977, p. 194).
New shantytowns established during Odría’s presidency always had associations to which residents of the settlement were expected to be member (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 74; see also Matos Mar, 1977, p. 219). Neighborhood associations proliferated over the course of Odría’s presidency. While in 1945 there were only about 7, by 1950 there were about 38, and in 1955 there were about 70 (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 79, gráfico N° 18). The brokers who controlled them often sought to control their turf, even against state organization encroachments. This was evidenced several years hence when a team of state officials appointed to carry out a study of Lima’s barriadas reported that neighborhood elites – who “had taken those neighborhoods as easy sources of exploitation” – were one of the main obstacles to their work (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 8).
Liberal Settlement Policy and its Effects
The Manuel Prado Ugarteche government was ideologically ambivalent about the proliferation of squatter settlements. Yet, seeking popular support, the regime tolerated and even encouraged some invasions (Collier, 1976, p. 71). It continued to channel invasions and new squatter settlements away from private land in favor of public land (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 94–5). The regime wanted private initiatives to fill housing demand (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 133; CRAV, 1958, pp. 56–57; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 126). Yet, since the urban poor had few monetary resources to commit to housing, the market was unresponsive to their needs; so the government advocated self-help in the form of mutual-aid savings institutions and self-built housing supplemented by private technical assistance (Bertram, 1991, p. 442; Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 94, 112–13; Collier, 1976, pp. 70–71, 76–77; Dietz, 1998, p. 146). The government sought to organize technical assistance formally, on the basis of “Assistance Contracts” delineating the rights and responsibilities of assisting and assisted parties, in order to “form an active and responsible citizenry” that “searches by itself for solutions to its issues […] without expecting everything from the government” (CRAV, 1958, pp. 65, 66–67). The Prado government did not organize squatters politically. 7 Instead, it sought to ease relations of dependency with legal recognition of squatter residences (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 94, 132–35; Collier, 1976, pp. 76, 85): the state organization promised to grant squatters provisional titles, and, assuming the requirements stipulated in the Assistance Contracts were completed, residents were supposed to eventually be able to become legal owners of their land (CRAV, 1958, p. 65). 8
Prado’s settlement policy was liberal, because it endorsed initiatives that sought to expand property rights. His refusal to involve the state organization in public housing provision for the urban poor, combined with his preference for self-help solutions to the housing deficit, left the poor to convert more public land into private residences. Like Locke, Prado maintained that this mixture of labor and land ought to be recognized as property. And just as liberal theory suggests, third-sector organizations – mediating between the state organization, on the one hand, and individuals and families, on the other – appeared (cf. Putnam, 1993, p. 167).
These organizations did not remain a mere buffer, however. Under Prado, mutual-aid associations began to organize squatters in an effort to control the extralegal appropriation of land (Collier, 1976, p. 70). These neighborhood elites often failed to keep up with demand (Matos Mar, 2012, p. 148). Since they not only controlled the allocation of land but also failed to deliver it quickly enough to squatters who needed places to live, rumors spread that they were hoarding it (Matos Mar, 2012, p. 149). The urban poor occasionally took matters into their own hands, requisitioning space outside of the associations’ control. When their autonomous action grew to large proportions, the government decided to intervene and relocate invaders to areas it considered acceptable (Matos Mar, 2012, p. 148; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 127).
The combination of overurbanization and the government’s commitment to applying its liberal settlement policy therefore helped association leaders continue to exercise control over access to land (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 94–95; Matos Mar, 2012, pp. 146–50, 164). As noted in Table 1, between 1956, the year that Prado came to power, and 1961, the year before he was overthrown, squatters grew from 9 to 18 percent of Lima’s population. By 1959, there were about 107 neighborhood associations controlling squatter settlements (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 79, gráfico N° 18). By the end of Prado’s term, government observers went to a newly formed squatter settlement with over 980 families and found that it had its own police station and chief of police, and that its neighborhood elites concerned themselves with suppressing dissident “meddlers.” To defend itself from the outside, it had a checkpoint system to ensure that only those with permission and the proper identification documents were allowed to enter the settlement and a president who promised to respond to any eviction attempt with violence, if necessary. 9 In general, association leaders had a considerable amount of control within their neighborhoods, although their power did not extend beyond them (Bourricaud,  2017, p. 172). Thus, in the context of overurbanization, Prado’s liberal settlement policy, just like Odría’s patrimonial settlement policy before him, unintentionally generated neighborhood elites who extracted resources from squatters based on their control of neighborhood turf.
Military Junta Repression
Toward the culmination of his term, the armed forces deposed Prado and installed a military junta government (1962–1963), which proceeded to repress squatters. The junta was principally interested in upholding the rule of law. It dislodged new land invaders and violently evicted squatters (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 168; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 130). Although it decreed that uncultivated and undeveloped land would become public property (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 135), this land was not to be ceded to squatters. Since the junta preferred state-led approaches to development (Cotler, 1991, pp. 458–59), it might have pursued public housing projects if it had been in power longer. But, during its short tenure, it did not promote self-help, organize squatters politically, or promise to recognize them legally. Instead, it slowed the pace of the extralegal requisitioning of urban space through repression.
The Non-application of a Settlement Policy and its Non-effects
The military junta ceded power to Fernando Belaúnde Terry (1963–1968), who was subject to too many contradictory pressures to coalesce and apply a settlement policy, and therefore did not generate neighborhood elites. Nor, however, did he repress squatters. His government initially perceived two options for the urban poor: it could supply housing commensurate with their economic means or leave them to their own devices – which was sure to lead to squatter settlement proliferation. 10 But one or more of the following factors – probably a combination – prevented him from developing and applying a settlement policy. First was his personal background: trained as an architect, Belaúnde was interested in urban design and thought that shantytowns were a non-solution to the housing deficit (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 170; Matos Mar, 2012, p. 224). Second, an opposition coalition in congress left his government in political deadlock, unable to make much legislative progress on urban reform (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 138–39; Cotler, 1991, pp. 460–61; Meneses Rivas, 1998, pp. 131–32). Third, the US government began to intervene intensively in the region in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution by peddling development aid packages for urban reform programs in Latin America. 11 (The Agency for International Development advocated “urban homesteading,” i.e., the granting of legal recognition to squatters, 12 and sought to use subsidized housing to shape domestic politics, 13 all in an effort to stem shantytown radicalism.) Hands tied, the government merely offered a few sites-and-services lots, promoted public-private construction projects, and upgraded some slums, 14 while Belaúnde turned his own attention to a single-family home initiative, inviting architects from around the world to plan a pilot project. 15
Rather than apply a squatter settlement policy or repress squatters, 16 Belaúnde acquiesced to shantytowns as a means of housing the poor and watched on as they continued to form, still mostly on public land (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 138, 171, 173). He refused to provide state organization support for self-help housing (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 138), abstained from organizing squatters politically (Dietz, 1998, p. 148), and extended legal recognition to only a tiny portion of Lima’s squatters. 17 In the absence of a settlement policy and of repression, squatters reversed the direction of influence between them and the state organization: they staged a series of protests which forced the government to allow legalization of squatter residences before neighborhood physical improvements were made (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 195–96, 235–36; Matos Mar, 2012, p. 228; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 135; Zapata Velasco, 1996, p. 75).
Since the government did not apply a settlement policy, it did not produce neighborhood elites as Odría’s patrimonial and Prado’s liberal settlement policies had. This is not to say there were no local organizations; neighborhood cooperatives continued to exist. But they were akin to mutual-aid societies rather than the neighborhood associations established previously (SIS-DSSV, 1960, p. 74). Dietz (1969, pp. 358–59) captures the absence of powerful associations in barriadas established during this time in his account of the experience of one resident:
While squatters considered cooperatives important for their life chances during this time, the example of Segundo suggests that they did not view neighborhood associations similarly. Those associations that did exist in the area were beset with fissuring, and Segundo did not consider the one in his settlement to be important or consequential (Dietz, 1969, pp. 363, 365). Since Lima expanded in the absence of a settlement policy, neighborhood associations in the settlements established during this time were relatively weak. This is because it took government intervention in the form of a settlement policy – which was not forthcoming under Belaúnde – to unintentionally reinforce associations’ power.
Segundo is a charter member of a small housing cooperative […]; there are presently about twenty-five members, and each contributes three hundred soles monthly to remain a member. […] Although there is a local association of families of El Mariscal, [his settlement,] Segundo feels that he has little time for either neighborhood or national politics.
Corporatist Settlement Policy and its Effects
General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968–1975), the first head of the Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces of Peru, sought to systematically incorporate the urban poor into state-chartered organizations. Although the government was initially concerned with law and order 18 – greeting new invasions with repression (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 168; Collier, 1976, pp. 115–16) – it also claimed to be pro-poor. But the more the government opted to repress the urban poor, the more difficult it became to sustain its legitimacy. Thus the regime decided to try to integrate shantytown residents into urban society (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 143, 145, 175; Michl, 1973, p. 161). Rather than suppress new land invasions, the Revolutionary Government relocated invaders from the sites of their choosing to less valuable, public land (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 179; Collier, 1976, p. 104; Riofrío Benavides, 1978, pp. 43–46; Zapata Velasco, 1996, p. 87). Although the regime did not provide social housing, it did improve some settlements; it leveled roads and extended services to, remodeled, quieted, legalized, and titled a number of residences (Collier, 1976, pp. 97, 101, 111; Dietz, 1974, pp. 393–401; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 137; Michl, 1973, pp. 160, 172; see also Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 196–97; Riofrío Benavides, 1978, p. 45). 19 Meanwhile, and at a much larger scale, the government promoted self-help development in and of the shantytowns (Collier, 1976, p. 120; Dietz, 1974, pp. 392–93; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 139; Michl, 1973, pp. 162, 165, 168–69). 20 The regime also wanted to use squatters as a base of political support; insofar as it could, the government supplanted extant squatter associations with neighborhood committees sympathetic to the regime (Collier, 1976, p. 98; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 138; Michl, 1973, pp. 170–71). 21 To these ends, it established two government agencies: National Office of Young Towns Development (ONDEPJOV), which was first to try to systematically organize squatters into a state-approved scheme of base-level organizations, 22 and the National Social Mobilization and Support System (SINAMOS), which eventually assumed responsibility for most programs in the squatter settlements, displaced opposition political organizations, and tried to harness neighborhood committees’ support (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 238; Collier, 1976, pp. 106, 108, 120; Dietz, 1974, Chapter 6; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 141). Ultimately, the regime required “participation” to gain access to state organization entitlements (Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 140): in order to receive land titles, squatters had to organize themselves into SINAMOS-approved organizations (Dietz, 1974, p. 439, 1980, pp. 174, 185).
Velasco’s settlement policy was corporatist, since it required that squatters participate in mutually exclusive, state-approved organizations in exchange for access to public resources. After directing land invasions to areas of its choosing, the regime required that the urban poor organize themselves into acceptable functional organizations (Dietz, 1980, pp. 183–84; Stepan, 1978, pp. 164, 166).
But by applying its settlement policy, the Velasco government unintentionally produced civil-society leaders. As a result, its goal of controlling squatters’ politics backfired. This can be observed clearly in the district of Villa El Salvador (VES), where SINAMOS focused disproportionately (Dietz, 1980, p. 171). VES was established when the corporatist regime transferred land invaders from a site they had invaded to one it considered more appropriate to establish a new settlement. There, SINAMOS promoted participation in VES community affairs by helping to create the Self-managed Urban Community of Villa El Salvador (CUAVES), the district’s principal community-wide participatory organization (Zapata Velasco, 1996, p. 89). The government’s participation incentives worked: while the majority of squatters did not become politically involved (Dietz, 1974, pp. 376–77), a sizable minority did; there were about 5,000 CUAVES leaders by the late 1970s (Zapata Velasco, 1996, p. 142).
In both VES (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 241–43; Zapata Velasco, 1996, pp. 22, 88, 129) and beyond (Cotler, 1991, pp. 467–68; Dietz, 1980, pp. 179, 187, 1998, p. 121; Meneses Rivas, 1998, p. 144; Stokes, 1995, pp. 36–44; Zapata Velasco, 1996, pp. 22, 125), the neighborhood leaders that the corporatist regime produced gradually came to oppose the state organization. Scholars of 1970s Lima are unanimous that the independent civil society leaders that the corporatist Velasco regime produced got out of its control and turned against it; they played an important part in pressuring Velasco’s successor to cede power to civilians. These neighborhood elites’ power, then, was sufficient to help tip the scales of national politics. Meanwhile, neighborhood associations continued to extract revenues from the urban poor, and some residents continued to think they abused their power (Matos Mar, 1986, pp. 283–84, 286).
Back to Repression
General Francisco Morales (1975–1980) took the helm of the Revolutionary Government during its denouement, but was unable to consolidate a settlement policy, reverting instead to repression. As its intended base of support increasingly turned against the government, Morales rolled the corporatist settlement policy back. The increasingly independent urban poor mounted a wave of protests and strikes against austerity and for political independence. Morales answered with repression. The urban poor responded by joining with workers’ organizations to orchestrate a series of political general strikes; Morales detained and exiled popular leaders and scrapped SINAMOS (Cotler, 1991, p. 475; Matos Mar, 2012, pp. 232–33, 241; Meneses Rivas, 1998, pp. 144–47; Zapata Velasco, 1996, pp. 136, 145–46). But these events ultimately forced the military government to cede power to civilians. They also prevented the government from developing a settlement policy: Morales did not promote self-help initiatives or organize squatters politically, and his government regularized only a relatively small number of squatter residences. 23
From 1948 to 1980, the Peruvian urban poor requisitioned public lands and established squatter settlements in the urban periphery of Lima. Two of the governments in power during that period – the military junta (1962–1963) and Morales (1975–1980) – responded by repressing squatters. The others allowed tens of thousands of squatters to establish informal settlements. Three governments – Odría (1948–1956), Prado (1956–1962), and Velasco (1968–1975) – crafted and applied settlement policies to shape this process; Belaúnde (1963–1968) did not. Odriá’s patrimonial, Prado’s liberal, and Velasco’s corporatist settlement policies converged in mostly not repressing squatters, generally allowing them to requisition public land, and largely failing to provide public housing. But they differed in terms of promoting self-help, organizing squatters politically, and promising to recognize squatters’ property rights. The patrimonial government did not promote self-help, did organize squatters politically, and did not recognize their property rights. The liberal one promoted self-help, did not organize squatters politically, and promised to recognize, and recognized, some squatters’ property rights. And the corporatist regime promoted self-help, organized squatters politically, and promised to and recognized some squatters’ property rights. Belaúnde’s approach, in contrast, was to allow squatters to requisition public space, but not to promote self-help, organize them politically, or promise to recognize their property rights.
Table 2 summarizes the causal argument. Large-scale urban growth and squatting of public lands were necessary background conditions for the state organization’s production of neighborhood elites. When both of these conditions obtained, and if the state organization also promoted self-help, organized squatters politically, and/or promised squatters property rights – either individually or in combination – the state organization’s response constituted a settlement policy and unintentionally generated neighborhood elites. Settlement policies varied – from patrimonial to liberal to corporatist – depending on the combination of such individually unnecessary sufficient conditions for which each respective government opted. The patrimonial settlement policy generated urban brokers; the liberal settlement policy generated association leaders; and the corporatist settlement policy generated civil society elites. The non-application of a settlement policy, in contrast, did not produce neighborhood elites.
|Conditions Giving Rise to Neighborhood Elites in Massive Public-lands Squatter Settlements|
|Necessary Background Conditions||Individually Unnecessary Sufficient Conditions|
|Government||Large Urban Expansion||Squatting of Public Land||Gov’t Promoted Self-help||Gov’t Organized Squatters Politically||Gov’t Promised Squatters Property Rights||Does This Constitute a Settlement Policy? (Kind)||Did It Produce Neighborhood Elites? (Kind)|
|Odría, 1948–1956||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes (patrimonial)||Yes (brokers)|
|Prado, 1956–1962||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (liberal)||Yes (assn leaders)|
|Military junta, 1962–1963||No||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Velasco, 1968–1975||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (corporatist)||Yes (civil society elites)|
Different public-lands squatter settlements were established in Lima under these distinct conditions. Those areas converted into squatter settlements during periods in which the government applied a settlement policy tended to be populated by neighborhood elites capable of extracting some resources from residents and exercising some control over their turf. Those areas converted into squatter settlements when the government did not apply a settlement policy tended not to allow local leaders to amass such power.
Discussion and Conclusion
The massive and unprecedented wave of urbanization that transpired in Latin America over the course of the twentieth century made that region’s cities unlike those in most of the rest of the Western world (Morse, 1962, p. 483, 1965, p. 46). Nevertheless, in Peru, a series of governments responded within the lineaments of familiar Western-style regimes. They adopted patrimonial, liberal, and corporatist approaches, respectively, for confronting the proliferation of squatter settlements. But rather than monopolize political authority, as a neo-Weberian might expect, the Peruvian state organization’s interventions produced neighborhood elites – organizations that extracted resources and controlled turf.
After divorcing the state organization’s aims from our theoretical expectations of the state and focusing on the (attempted) control of land, the state organization’s role in producing neighborhood elites becomes evident. State attempts to increase infrastructural power (through the application of a settlement policy) generated societal despotic powers (neighborhood elites). Odría’s patrimonial policy produced a category of intermediaries who brokered access to land in exchange for political support, and, in their turf, extracted some rent and gained some political authority over squatters on this basis. Stemming from Prado's liberal settlement policy was a strata of association leaders who orchestrated self-help initiatives and extracted some resources from and gained some authority over squatters within their neighborhoods. And Velasco's corporatism systematically manufactured civil society elites, who also extracted some resources from and had some power over squatters in their neighborhoods. And Velasco’s corporatism systematically manufactured civil society elites, who also extracted resources from and had power over squatters in their neighborhoods. However, during Belaúnde’s presidency, he failed to apply a settlement policy, and therefore did not produce neighborhood elites. Thus, it was the Peruvian state’s attempt to extend infrastructural power into squatter settlements – viz., the application of a settlement policy – that was crucial in generating land-controlling societal despotic powers.
Neighborhood elites were not ephemeral. Their niche was based, in part, on control of access to land. The need among the urban poor for a place to live did not disappear. This opportunity structure appears to have hailed neighborhood elites: as early as the late 1950s, there were many instances in which two such neighborhood elites vied for control of the same turf (SIS-DSSV, 1960, pp. 72, 157–60, Anexo N° 17), a pattern that continued during intervening years (e.g., Dietz, 1998, pp. 93–94) and through the corporatist regime’s tenure (e.g, Stokes, 1995, pp. 39, 41–42). Subsequent to the transition to civilian rule, squatter leaders still sometimes clashed with state officials to defend their turf from encroachment (Stokes, 1995, pp. 52–53).
The Peruvian state organization’s unintentional production of neighborhood elites seems to have been limited, for the most part, to the period discussed earlier (1948–1980). After the fall of Morales, Belaúnde took the helm for a second presidency (1980–1985). But this time squatter-settlement growth was minimal, thus virtually precluding production of neighborhood elites. 24 The transition from Belaúnde to President Alan García (1985–1990) – a populist who vocalized his commitment to all Peruvians, making squatters think he would be lenient – was accompanied by a wave of approximately 100 land invasions. 25 But they were concentrated, for the first time, in well-located private tracts (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 185–86) and adhered to a different pattern of land allocation (Calderón Cockburn, 1998, pp. 8–12), thus precluding the rise of such neighborhood elites in them. Moreover, rather than craft a settlement policy, García turned his attention to severe economic problems (Cotler, 1991, p. 502) and to the rumblings of civil war (Burt, 1998, p. 272). Finally, his successor, the neoliberal authoritarian President Alberto Fujimori (1990–2000), implemented a massive squatter settlement legalization initiative. This initiative obeyed conditions inherited from the past, though many rightly see it as the end of an era.
While a full appreciation of the theoretical implications of the finding that the state organization can unintentionally generate despotic powers that oppose it is beyond the scope of this analysis, I would be remiss not to mention two of them. First, if we broaden our conceptualization of the state from an organization to, for example, a field, we could consider neighborhood elites to be part of, rather than exogenous to, the state. Second, having empowered neighborhood elites at an earlier time, it is plausible that subsequent state organization interventions would have to take them into account.
Neighborhood elites have economic concerns, but their power stems first from their control of turf and only second from their business activities there or elsewhere.
Urban brokers arise in the context of an influx of rural-to-urban migrants, but they amass their power in the urban political context.
I borrow this term from Germani (1967, p. 179). In this connection, see also Matos Mar (1984).
For example, in what researchers consider Odría’s iconic district, 27 de Octubre (later renamed San Martín de Porres), Odría delegated the power to adjudicate land to the 27 de Octubre Family Fathers’ Association (Ley N° 11588 (February 14, 1951), artículo 3).
All translations are my own.
The government identified informality and neighborhood elites as a problem and reasoned that if the state involved itself formally in squatter settlements by providing technical assistance, it would incentivize the extralegal establishment of residences and associated speculation (CRAV, 1958, pp. 63–64).
The exact number of residences that the Prado government regularized is unknown, but it was probably very few since it passed the law in order to form an electoral alliance rather than because it actually sought major involvement in squatter settlements (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 132–135; Collier, 1976, pp. 84–85), and because it had relatively little time to implement it (it passed this law on February 10, 1961 and left power in on July 18, 1962).
“A Report on a Visit to the One Month Old Squatter Settlement of Pampa del Ermitaño by Staff of the Housing Institute on July 7, 1962,” memorandum included in USAID/Lima to AID/W, “Housing and Urban Development Div. Semi-annual Summary Report – Jan. 1 to June 30, 1962” (August 17, 1962), pp. 4–7. NACP, Records of the Agency for International Development, 1948–2003, Record Group 286; USAID Mission to Peru, Executive Office, 11/4/1961-10/1/1979; Central Subject Files, 1962–1968; Housing and Urban Development FY63. I thank Helen Elizabeth Gyger for sharing this source with me. More evidence for the power of neighborhood elites under Prado can be found in AGN, Poder Ejecutivo, Prefectura de Lima, Particulares, legajos 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 to 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.
Junta Nacional de la Vivienda, “Plan de inversions en viviendas nuevas en Lima metropolitana” (July 1963), p. 14. JTC, Box 15.
In his comments before the US Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on Banking and Currency (April 22, 1963), Charles Abrams opined that “If a revolution takes place within our generation it will take place not on the basis of the Marxian criterion but on the basis of the squatter criterion.” In its report, the Committee concluded similarly: “The deplorable living conditions of the masses of people in friendly developing countries are at the root of the political and social unrest in these countries.” Study of International Housing: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Banking and Currency, United States Senate, Eighty-Eighth Senate, First Session, April 22, 23, 24, and 25, 1963 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 25, VIII. FVC, Box 48.
Donald P. McPhail, “Action memorandum for the administrator” (May 18, 1965), p. 2. JTC, Box 31.
Agency for International Development, “Announcement: Reopening of Housing Guarantee Program” (April 4, 1966), pp. 1–3. JTC, Box 31.
Instituto de la Vivienda, “Normas generales de programas de vivienda” (n.d.). JTC, Box 15.
The project’s tortured history eventuated a mere 467 homes in the mid-1970s (McGuirk, 2014, pp. 74–75).
This was apparent even to the US Agency for International Development’s advisor to the government of Peru, who lauded Belaúnde’s “faith in the willingness and capacity of the people to manage their own local affairs and to govern themselves when given assistance.” James M. Green (Consultant on Community Development and Local Government, USAID) to Eduardo Orrego V. (Interministerial Executive, Commission of Popular Cooperation, Government of Peru) (March 12, 1964), p. 1. FVC, Box 38, Pe. Gen. 68.
Belaúnde granted 6,260 squatter residences full legal recognition during this time (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 196).
The day after it came to power, the military declared that one of the government’s main objectives was to “restore […] the rule of law” (Decreto Ley N° 17063 (October 4, 1968), Article 2, Section d).
Between 1968 and 1975, the state regularized 15,730 shantytown residences (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 196).
Oficina Nacional de Desarrollo de Pueblos Jóvenes, “Boletín 5: Ponencia presentada por la O.N.D.P.J. al seminario de asentamientos populares organizado por el A.I.D.” (1969), p. 29. JTC, Box 14.
The regime thought that the urban poor had “fundamental interests” which were negated by the political status quo. As it implemented modernizing reforms, the government anticipated “[generating] new attitudes and loyalties.” It thought these “should be channeled towards the shaping of a new society” by means of “the creation of a system of organization and of a genuine leadership.” Oficina Nacional de Desarrollo de Pueblos Jóvenes, “Boletín 1: La organización para el desarrollo de los pueblos jóvenes” (1969), p. 25. JTC, Box 14.
At the base of this organizational scheme was the Block Committee; above that was the Committee for Promotion and Development, which had a Central Directive Board; and above that were the local and national ONDEPJOV offices (Michl, 1973, pp. 166-67).
Between 1975 and 1980, the state regularized 4,132 shantytown residences (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, p. 199).
Squatters established a mere 6,321 residences in Lima’s squatter districts during this time (Allou, 1989, Anexo 1). These were largely in green spaces within established settlements, and their residents tended to assimilate into existing social structures (Calderón Cockburn, 2005, pp. 157, 183–184).
Centro de Investigación, Documentación y Asesoría Poblacional, Gobiernos y barriadas 1950–1985, 2nd ed. (Lima: CIDAP, June 1988), p. 29. JTC, Box 14.
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This research is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (grant number 1627893) and by the Social Science Research Council. I benefitted from the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers, the editor, and Robert S. Jansen, as well as from conversations with numerous others. All errors and omissions are, of course, my own.
- Introduction: Toward a Political Sociology of Land
- Part I Capacities
- The State’s Unintentional Production of Turf-controlling Neighborhood Elites in Twentieth Century Lima, Peru
- Land, Power, and Property Tax Limitation
- Part II Coalitions
- A Seat at the Table: Coalition Building, Fragmentation, and Progressive Polarization in an Anti-fracking Movement
- Agenda Dynamics in the European Politics of Land: Explaining the Soil Protection Gap
- Part III Classification
- Assembling Land Access and Legibility: The Case of Morocco’s Gharb Region
- Urban Agriculture, Revalorization, and Green Gentrification in Denver, Colorado
- Part IV Expulsions
- Resistance Against Land Grabs in Senegal: Factors of Success and Partial Failure of an Emergent Social Movement
- Land for Social Security: Political Survival and Welfare Distribution in Rural China
- The Intersection of Violence and Land Inequality in Modern Colombia