Plan Making from Below--Puerto Rico
All presentations are open to public and held on Wednesdays starting at 9 am Central US time
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Angeliz Encarnación Burgos, PhD – University of Puerto Rico
“The “M” districts and the production of space: understanding San Juan’s Unevenness”
The 1940s marked the beginning of a profound transformation in Puerto Rican society, government structure, and politics—a transformation that shifted Puerto Rico’s relationship with the Metropolitan state. This expansion was also connected to previous contestations, political mediations, and the reinforcement of technical knowledge as a source of “peaceful” and “neutral” solutions to the political crisis. Thus, planning instruments were developed with the aim of transforming San Juan into a world-class city, which was linked to Puerto Rico becoming a showcase of democracy. This presentation explores how state-led urban development processes started dividing and differentiating San Juan’s urban space while integrating Puerto Rico into the U.S. housing and urban development policy regime. Furthermore, it shows how the use of special development zoning districts, Distritos M, contributed to intensifying uneven forms of urban development and provided not only the means to control the expansion of informal settlements but also the necessary authority to force the redevelopment of those areas to reorganize the city in parallel with the colonial economic development strategy, i.e., Operation Bootstraps. In the long run, such practices have harmed poor barrios for generations by perpetuating state disinvestment in essential infrastructure while depriving these families of many of their rights as inhabitants of the city.