Urban Upgrading and Gangs distribution in the informal settlements of Medellin, Colombia


Urban Upgrading and Gangs distribution in the informal settlements of Medellin, Colombia

World.png


Figure 2  Colombia political distribution

Figure 1 World Map, Colombia
Abstract
Colombia-Medellin3.pngSince the mid 1980s, Medellín has been an extraordinarily violent city, even within the context of Colombia. In the last wave of violence in Colombia between 1989 and 1994, Medellín experienced 25[1] percent of all public order problems in the entire country. One territory of the city where the complexities of the national conflict with its multiplicity of illegal armed actors intersected (drug lords, guerrilla, Right Wing Paramilitary groups and organized criminal gangs) is large informal settlements. Historically each one of the illegal armed actors of the national conflict had positioned themselves in the major cities like Medellin and fought for control of the informal territories that exist in the city but that are outside of control of the formal state. Over the last two decades, the city of Medellin has implemented a series of projects that tries to deal with the problem of informality in the city of Medellin. Those consecutive strategies had focused on granting of land titles to informal settlers along with other polices and projects that intended to incorporate these “substandard” areas to the rest of the city. The areas of operation of illegal armed groups in Medellin are also the informal settlements and these are the areas that now are selected by the local government as areas to invested and renovated grant legal tenure to their inhabitants. This paper seeks reveal using GIS tools how the different projects (grant title and physical projects) interact against the backdrop of a landscape of urban violence. Using a recently collected area distribution of gangs over the comunas[2] 5 and 6 and the map of projects to be executed by the administration over the same comunas in the next 12 months.

Figure 3 Antiquia and table of homicide rate from 1994 to 2003 of Colombia vs. Medellin





1.       informe_paramilitares_en_Medellin_ai_img_0.jpgColombia long history of violence and Medellin the most violent city in Colombia

Figure 4 Ceremony of peace process with paramilitary groups in Medellin, Colombia. After the peace process fail the member of now extinct paramilitary group became member of the multiplicity of gangs


.
Since the mid 1980s, the city of Medellín, Colombia has been an extraordinarily violent city, even within the context of Colombia. In the last wave of violence in Colombia between 1989 and 1994, Medellín experienced 25[3] percent of all public order problems in the entire country. In a country with a century-long history of violence and an internal civil war, Medellín has been the territory where the consequences were among the most visible.

2.       Medellin PUND Rio.pngDemobilized Paramilitary (illegal armed right wing groups) as new gang groups (combos, Bandas Oficinas)
One territory of the city where the complexities of the national conflict with its multiplicity of illegal armed actors intersected (drug lords, guerrilla, Right Wing Paramilitary groups and organized criminal gangs) is large informal settlements. Historically each one of the illegal armed actors of the national conflict had positioned themselves in the major cities like Medellin and fought for control of the informal territories that exist in the city but that are outside of control of the formal state.

Figure 5 Area of study comuna 5 and 6, map shows the street grid against the back drop of the steep topography of the aburra valley.


Figure 6 Urban area of the city of Medellin with the comunas political distribution, in yellow comuna's 5 and 6
 
As a result of the complex and failed peace process with illegal armed actors in Medellin, the ex-militants of the paramilitary groups that once were part of the peace process had regroup into a multiplicity of small gangs “Combos, Bandas and Oficinas” (Avendaño 2009)  these groups[4] had a larger presence in informal settlements.i s a map that graphically shows how the previous paramilitary organization has fragmented into a multiplicity of illegal armed actors distributed over the territory of the Comuna 5 and 6.

3.       Integrated Urban Project


Figure 7 Integrated Urban Project IUP NorOccidental. in yellow all areas to be developed as part of the urban upgrading program.



Over the last two decades, the city of Medellin has implemented a series of projects that tries to deal with the p roblem of informality. The first project implemented in the early 1990s was the PRIMED (Integrated Slum Upgrading Program of Medellin or Programa Integral de Mejoramiento de Barrios Subnormales en Medellín). The second project implemented in Medellin in 2004 to the present was the Integral Urban Project (IUP) (Programa Urbano Integral). Both of those consecutive strategies had focused on granting of land titles to informal settlers along with other polices and projects that intended to incorporate these “substandard” areas to the rest of the city. See . for a map of all informal settlements’ of the city of Medellin and the new are considered for regularization.

4.       Spatial considerations
Today these two situations (1) large presence of diverse number of illegal armed actors and (2) massive urban upgrading intersect the same territory. In july 2010 the Human right board of comuna 6 (the territory in question) in open letter to the mayor of Medellin expose that contractors building the new city owned daycare center were being extortion and had to pay a tax to the illegal armed group.

Figure 8 Areas controlled by each gang in the comuna's 5 and 6 in the city of Medellin
This antecedent in the mist of this large urban project IUP in which more than 39 parks, public building and road infrastructure will be developed opens a series of questions: (1) about the levels of risk that the community that lives in this areas experiment and the risk that individual projects will have to confront once developed and; (2) Along with this considerations if projects to be introduced represent a source of income to 40+ gangs with really define territories, which projects will be seen by these groups as source as competition for economical an territorial resources and would be potential for future conflict between the warring groups.

Using a recently collected[5] data of the actual distribution of gangs over the comunas[6] 5 and 6 and the map of projects to be executed by the administration over the same comunas in the next 12 months. I have created a series of analytical maps that try to answer those questions. And that open a venue to further explore the spatial implications of this multiplicity of armed actors in such territory.

5.       Conclusions

Figure 9, Risk map of the comunas 5 and 6 based on location of gangs, scale of them and areas of influence and proximity.
 


The first two maps Risk of Proximity of gangs Figure 9, Risk map of the comunas 5 and 6 based on location of gangs, scale of them and areas of influence and proximity. and Public Space Risk Figure 10 Public space Risk: Network distribution of risk in the comunas 5 and 6, helps to understand two scales of the influence of the operation of gangs in this two groups of neighborhoods. The fist shows that spatial distribution of the gangs and how proximity of other gangs makes entire area more or less safe. The second ad a level of understanding, it show how the distribution of the street grid and the gangs that operate on them further impede mobility over the territory, this map suggest what kind of pieces of the street network are accessible and those that would represent a risk for community members on it. At many interviews in this areas community members talked about their experiences of impede mobility and on how especially youth encounter their mobility restricted by the presence of those illegal armed actors. This map shows for the first time a special analysis of this phenomenon that only had been visible thru narratives.

Figure 10 Public space Risk: Network distribution of risk in the comunas 5 and 6

The final two maps evaluate the future projects based on extortion rates experimented by the projects been build in these comunas. The first map Figure 12 IUP projects by risk of extortion, rates the risk of extortion that each project will have by gangs, based on potential extortion value of the projects vs. their location in relationship with the map of gangs. And the final map evaluates each one of the projects vs. the number of gangs that intersect its territories. This final analysis foresee future areas that will be seen by the gangs as territories of dispute and thus represent areas of potential future conflict the higher the number represents the number of gangs that will see that territories as theirs.
In general this series of spatial analysis represent visualization of phenomena that at least for the case of Medellin had never been visualized, and can provide future venues of research.
Figure 11 IUP Gang Influence per project: future areas of conflict.

Figure 12 IUP projects by risk of extortion












[1] “With 7% of the national population, the city reported 25% of public order problems in the country in 2001” Betancur, John J. "Approaches to the Regularization of Informal Settlements: The Case of PRIMED in Medellin, Colombia." Global Urban Development Magazine, November 2007. http://www.globalurban.org/GUDMag07Vol3Iss1/Betancur%20PDF.pdf (accessed February 2, 2010).
[2] A comuna is a territorial distribution that include several (10 to 20) neighborhoods. The city of Medellin has 15 comunas.
[3] “With 7% of the national population, the city reported 25% of public order problems in the country in 2001” Betancur, John J. "Approaches to the Regularization of Informal Settlements: The Case of PRIMED in Medellin, Colombia." Global Urban Development Magazine, November 2007. http://www.globalurban.org/GUDMag07Vol3Iss1/Betancur%20PDF.pdf (accessed February 2, 2010).
[4] Some authors refer to this new organizations as “neo-paramilitary groups” because of is possible alliance with political ideologies or the dismantled paramilitary groups. I opt to use the self denomination use by these groups because is unclear that all groups had or maintain linkages with the previous organizations. Also because, even when they self proclaim under the peace process part of the paramilitary groups, the actual link was call into question by human rights groups during the questioning about the un proprieties of the peace process.
[5] The data of location of was provided as part of my research interview in January 2010, and sources are only revealed upon request.
[6] A comuna is a territorial distribution that include several (10 to 20) neighborhoods. The city of Medellin has 15 comunas.

Comments