9. Spaces of everyday resistance: the right to the city


Latin America has witnessed unprecedented levels of urbanization over the past few decades, which has produced informal processes and urban conflicts.

Urban spaces are more than just physical infrastructure: they are the site of class struggles, collective initiatives, and confrontations, in which citizens demand access to public services, urban resources, and dignified living from the sources of political and economic power.


About the Author

Antonia Burchard-Levine specializes in urban transportation and mobility, urban land development, housing and livelihoods, and infrastructure financing.

She is particularly interested in urban social movements, issues of access to the city and its resources, and the range of processes that shape cities and their inhabitants. Antonia is currently based in Berlin and consults on international development projects as an urban development specialist.


Jorge Cáñez, aka Peatónito (urban mobility and road safety activist): interviewed via Jitsi Meet on 23 February 2018 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Hebe Powell.

Andrés Chaves (urbanist and film-maker): interviewed via Skype on 11 January 2018 by Antonia Burchard-Levine. Translated by Antonia Burchard-Levine.

Luciana Cury (Coletivo Ocupe e Abrace): interviewed via Skype on 12 February 2018 by Antonia Burchard-Levine. Transcribed by Tom Gatehouse.

Marcello Deodoro (Tijuca Indiana Residents’ Commission): interviewed via email on 18 December 2017 by Jennifer Chisholm. Translated by Chris Whitehouse.

Luiz Gonzaga da Silva, aka Gegê (MMC): interviewed in São Paulo on 21 December 2016 and 28 January 2017 by Ali Rocha. Translated by Hugo Moss.

Salvador Medina (urban economist and activist): interviewed via Skype on 8 February 2018 by Antonia Burchard-Levine. Translated by Antonia Burchard-Levine.

Johans Rodriguez (1st Brigade of Polvorines): interviewed in Piura, Peru, in late January 2016 by Kary Stewart. Translated by Kary Stewart.

Emília Maria de Souza (Horto Residents’ Association): interviewed in Rio de Janeiro on 29 January 2018 by Jennifer Chisholm. Translated by Theo Bradford.

Kurt Steffens (Ciudad Emergente): interviewed via WhatsApp on 20 March 2018 by Antonia Burchard-Levine. Translated by Antonia Burchard-Levine.


NB: All web references were checked and still available in May/June 2018 unless otherwise stated.

Bauwens, M. (2018) ‘People in defence of life and territory: counter-power and self-defence in Latin America’, P2P Foundation

Boyer, H. (2005) ‘Urban land and housing challenges in Brazil’, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Carvalho, S. (2017) ‘As 9 cidades brasileiras com o pior trânsito’, Circuito D

Gatehouse, T. (2016) ‘Brazil’s Olympic flames’, Red Pepper

Gehl, J. (2010) Cities for People, Island Press, Washington DC. Green, D. and Branford, S. (2013) Faces of Latin America, 4th edn, Latin America Bureau (LAB), London.

Harvey, D. (2012) Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, Verso, London and New York, NY.

Jacobs, J. (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage Books, New York, NY.

Jaitman, L. (2015) ‘Urban infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean: public policy priorities’, Latin American Economic Review 24: 13

Johnson, S. (2014) ‘Rio’s BRT system: a tool for legacy or fragmentation?’, RioOnWatch

Lefebvre, H. (2014) The Production of Space, 18th edn, Blackwell, Oxford.

Marsh, S. (2013) ‘Antanas Mockus: Colombians fear ridicule more than being fined’, The Guardian, 28 October

McGuirk, J. (2014) Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture, Verso, London and New York, NY.

Merrifeld, A. (2017) ‘Fifty years on: the right to the city’, in A. Merrifeld, The Right to the City: A Verso Report, Verso, London and New York, NY.

Pacheco, P. (2016) ‘Brazil: My House, My Life’, World Policy

Tactical Urbanism (no date) ‘What is Tactical Urbanism?


Cholet – the Work of Freddy Mamani, who built Salas de...

Documentary film, one hour long, showing the  Salas de Eventos - over 60 in number - that have been designed and built...

Residents denounce crime against the environment

Members of the collective Ocupe e Abrace are opposing a new 22 storey block of flats, to be built next to Praça...

The Spring versus the Buildings

In the Praça (Square) Homero Silva, on Avenida Pompeia, there is a pavement where water tenaciously insists in welling up from underground....

Residents of Pompeia rescue their square

Rescued by local residents, Praça Homero Silva, in the west of São Paulo, has springs, toads and fish -- an oasis in...

The Big Lunch goes to Chile

Early in November 2016 Peter and Lindsey from Eden Project Communities visited Santiago, Chile, at the invitation of Ciudad Emergente, an...

El Gran Malón (‘The Big Lunch’) 2017: time we got to...

El Gran Malón is an invitation to hold Malones, street lunches, throughout Chile, on the same day, with the idea of getting...

Custom title

Gegê/São Paulo/the MMC

Colombia/Andrés Chaves/El Cartucho

Brazil/Rio/urban regeneration/gentrification

Peatónito/Mexico City/road safety/transport

Tactical urbanism

Ciudad Emergente

Coletivo Ocupe e Abrace/Praça da Nascente

Peru/Piura/Los Polvorines

News related to this chapter

Militias advance on Rio environmental reserve

By Mariana Simões, Agência Pública Agência Pública is a LAB partner, and provided this article for publication in English by LAB. Translated by Julia May, Wide Avenues . You can read the original version in Portuguese here. ‘Do you think I'm not scared? I am. They know who I am. Now, it’s not just me who's afraid,’ says the teacher Marlucia Santos de Souza, bending over the desk to get closer to the voice recorder, as if afraid of being overheard. No one...

Colombia: stairway storytellers in Medellín

Sulay Pino is waiting for us at the main entrance to the San Javier metro station wearing a bright green t-shirt that reads ‘Stairway Storytellers’, the name of the project she founded along with her friend and co-worker Stiven Álvarez. https://vimeo.com/260256060 This is the Stairway Storytellers' video. We are booked to go on the popular ‘free graffiti walking tour’ of the Comuna 13 neighbourhood in Medellín which includes a visit to the famous electric staircase. According to the newspaper El Colombiano, an average of 17,000 people visit the staircase each...

Mexico: AMLO’s first hundred days

Since taking office on 1 December 2018, president Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has been a man in a hurry. Aged 65, he is said to get up every day at six, hold a daily press conference at seven, and then begin a twelve-hour day. At weekends, he flies off to one of Mexico’s 32 states to examine local projects and talk to the state governors. https://youtu.be/3A79bvzW4Do Popularity sky-high, Mexico's AMLO marks 100 days in office. Video: Al Jazeera English He and his MORENA (Movement for National Regeneration) movement have a comfortable majority in...

Bem Viver: the inspiring role of young people

Rios de Encontro (Rivers of Meeting), is an eco-cultural and socio-educational project based in the community of Cabelo Seco, Pará, Brazil. The project spent the last two weeks of November in national and international activities to celebrate the role of young arts-educators who, in the midst of worrying and uncertain times, are searching for creative ways to promote social and environmental change. Our AfroRaiz (AfroRoots) collective took part in a Bem Viver forum in Moeda, Minas Gerais, presenting the reality of afro-descendant people in Marabá. The venue is near Mariana, the site of the worst environmental crime in Brazil’s history...