The Dominican Republic

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sabana Perdida

Sabana Perdida is perhaps the poorest area of Santo Domingo. The community which consists of something like 54 neighborhoods (barrios) sprawls over the hills in the northeast area of the city, located about 40 minutes from the center of Santo Domingo. José Luis Alcántara was killed there while protesting electricity blackouts. The area has seen sporadic urban renewal efforts, not always focused on the well-being of the inhabitants.

The Centro Internacional de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo, Edmundo Morel & Manuel Mejía, published an excellent study of evictions associated with such urban renewal efforts. For example, construction of the "outer ring" road forced the resettlement of dozens of families in Sabana Perdida.

In 1988, I spent a year in Guadalajara, Mexico studying the problems with home ownership and public service deliver in irregular settlements. Sabana Perdida is similar. In fact, recently the president of the DR "regularized" over 3500 homes, providing the owners with title to their properties. Income in the area is probably $60 per month or less and electricity may be shut down for 10 hours a day.


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