ENVIRONMENT-PUERTO RICO: Rural Community Fights Urban Sprawl
All over this Caribbean island, forests, wetlands and poor communities have been levelled to make way for highways, shopping malls and suburbs.
- The rural community of Caimito, in the south end of San Juan, is bearing the brunt of the suburban expansion of the metropolitan area. But the residents of this 200 year-old community are fighting back against urban sprawl by combining struggle and dialogue.
In southern San Juan, the urban invasion is symbolised by Montehiedra, a super-elite suburb with houses valued at over 300,000 dollars, next to a vast shopping mall that bears the same name. Montehiedra is surrounded by an ever-expanding cluster of high-priced housing projects that are eating away at Caimito.
In terms of culture and values, Caimito and Montehiedra couldn’t be any more different, according to Caimito community activist Haydee Colon. “Caimito was born of the effort of our ancestors, with great economic limitations. It was built with a vision to which everyone contributed,” said Colon.
“On the other hand, Montehiedra was born on some planner’s desk. Mortgage bankers joined the project, and its residents became prisoners of the debt cycle. They work to pay the bank. That’s what the consumption and throwaway society are all about. In that type of society you never save money, because your whole life goes by and you still haven’t finished paying the mortgage.”
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Etiquetas: Caimito, Carmelo, eng, Haydee Colón, IPS, Puerto Rico