Good Deed

14 06 2016



In Rio’s favelas lack of property rights can be lethal for young men


In favelas like Cantagalo, where people often lack formal documents to prove they own their ramshackle homes, young men are disproportionately impacted by violence, analysts said.

“There is no clear definition of who owns the land in Cantagalo,” said Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho, a lecturer at King’s College London specializing in Brazilian politics.

“A population with a sense of ownership of their homes has more direct communitarian ties,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I believe this sense of ownership would reduce the vulnerability to criminality.”

Home to more than 20 percent of Rio’s residents, favelas first developed as squatter communities. As a result, many favela residents do not have formal title for their homes.

I actually think that the cause of this isn’t so much the lack of a private property legal culture in Rio and Brazil in as much as it is the lazy way that Mediterraneans and their diaspora and former colonies deal with measuring land.




3 responses

14 06 2016

The Chronicles article may or may not be paywalled, so I’ll net it out for you:

The reason land ownership in Latin America and parts of what became the United States that was formerly under Spanish control can be so vague is because the titles describing what is owned are vague. You could have a title that could read that this deed is for land in between the foot of this creek and the feet of these hills, or between what’s on the horizon and over yonder. Like, okay, d00d.

Meanwhile, Anglo America’s land titles used neat latitude and longitude lines, Thomas Jefferson himself being the major architect of that paradigm.

14 06 2016
Hard Right

That other Evil Slave Owner™ George Washington was a surveyor.

17 06 2016

This sounds like it draws on the ideas of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar, who wrote a book in 2000 blaming mestizo slums and poverty in Latin America on lack of clear property rights/titles.

“The developed world has devised a formal property system of titles, title registries, and inclusive property law that includes real estate used for homes or businesses. We in the West take that system for granted, probably because it is invisible to us. De Soto shows that this is in a large part why some nations are rich while others remain in poverty.
With titles, shares and property laws, people could suddenly go beyond looking at their assets as they are — houses used for shelter — to thinking about what they could be—things like security for credit to start or expand a business.”

I remember it kind of had a moment there for a while where it was getting some buzz, although it never really took off like the (also later debunked) microcredit fad. The verdict? “Land titling is a good thing, but it does not in itself create capitalism … It turns out, however, that securing title doesn’t necessarily lead to this piece of alchemy.”

Turns out that you can’t turn Shitavious into Adam Smith via paperwork. Who coulda’ known?

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