El Mezquital: A community's struggle for development
This paper describes the history of the community in El Mezquital, from the land invasion in the mid-1980s, through its consolidation and growth, until the present, drawing principally on interviews with the inhabitants and staff from supporting agencies. It analyses the development of the different, and sometimes conflicting, community organisations, and compares their different mandates and objectives. It shows important processes of community empowerment, the changing role of women, and community self-help initiatives. It also describes how, in much of the settlement, basic infrastructure and services were in place and of good quality. It also highlights the lack of employment opportunities, how many people still live in overcrowded conditions, and the problems of violence, drug addiction, and street children. It also highlights the inadequacies on the part of government agencies - including their incapacity to respond to the needs of the community, their under-estimation of community capacity, and the attempts at political manipulation.