Poor people dread high-profile international events

In the urban Third World, poor people dread high-profile international events – conferences, dignitary visits, sporting events, beauty contests, and international festivals – that prompt authorities to launch crusades to clean up the city: slum-dwellers know that they are the “dirt” or “blight” that their governments prefer the world not to see. During the Nigerian Independence celebration in 1960, for example, one of the first acts of the new government was to fence the route from the airport so that Queen Elizabeth’s representative, Princess Alexandria, would not see Lagos’s slums. These days governments are more likely to improve the view by razing the slums and driving the residents out of the city.

Manilenos have a particular horror of such “beautification campaigns”. During Imelda Marcos’s domination of city government, shanty-dwellers were successively cleared from the parade routes of the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant, the visit of President Gerald Ford in 1975, and the IMF-World Bank meeting in 1976. Alltogether 160 000 squatters were moved out of the media’s field of vision, many of them dumped on Manila’s outskirts, 30 kilometers or more from their former homes.

– Mike Davis, Planet of Slums

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s