Paperback, 190 pages
Released: January 1998
Since the 1950s, Latin America has been transformed from a rural to an urban society. The region now contains some of the world’s biggest cities, headed by Mexico City with its 20 million inhabitants. In all but five Latin American countries, more people now live in towns and cities than in the countryside.
This mass movement from country to city has put enormous strain on the infrastructure and services of cities such as Bogotá and Caracas. Conditions continue to worsen as governments cut back social spending in their structural adjustment programs.
The Latin American City looks at the region’s urban explosion from the perspective of the poor. It asks why people are attracted to the city and examines the underlying problem of rural poverty which fuels the exodus. It explores the options open to those arriving in the city and the strategies used in order to acquire land and build a home. Highlighting the role of the informal sector in urban survival, it also explains how popular organization and protest can result in improved living standards for the poor.
Alan Gilbert has long been one of the most incisive and perceptive analysts of urban problems and policy in Latin America. The Latin American City should be extremely useful in interdisciplinary survey courses on contemporary Latin America as well as courses dealing comparatively with cities in Third World countries. Gilbert’s coverage of urban issue areas. . . is the most comprehensive of any text to date.