“At MIPIM the Planet is for sale”

in December housing rights activists from a number of European cities met in Paris to discuss ideas for joint actions in 2014. One of the main outcomes was a general plan for action at the occasion of the international real estate fair MIPIM.  After the meeting some of the participants created the folloeing text.

MIPIM 2014
will take place from 11 to 14 March in Cannes in the south of France. This is one of global capitalism’s major annual events for all aspects of the real estate business, including the buying and selling of land, the planning, construction, financing, facilitation and management of housing and commercial property around the world. At this event some 20,000 people will take part. €1600 is the entry fee per person. At MIPIM the Planet is for sale.
At this event we want to challenge those who – at the cost of the inhabitants, the environment and our entire society  –  extract profit from housing, land and cities. Publicly we want to denounce those who continue to transform our needs, rights and commons into financial assets; to draw attention to the whole crisis-perpetuating nature of this business as well as targeting concrete actors responsible for specific violations of peoples rights to housing and the city. Thus, we want to organize a transnational expression of the need to stop this form of urban transformation, and stake a claim for a social transformation of our cities, which is based on realising people’s rights to housing, land and cities in an inclusive, sustainable and democratic way. As part of doing this we also want to build and strengthen transnational coalitions of inhabitants’ concrete struggles against corporations.
Some of those attending the MIPIM real estate market will come from public municipalities and councils around the world. They will be seeking to sell public land and public infrastructure, directly, as part of development projects or in “private-public-partnerships” (PPPs). Public municipalities present urban transformation plans that respond to the interests of speculators who deal in this fair projects for hotels , offices, luxury housing, shoping centers, etc. They celebrate urban plans for profit not for people. Here, they will make contacts with possible business partners to sell the commons to exit their financial crisis. The ordinary people who will be affected often know nothing of these deals until it is too late. Together we want to denounce this process.
Of course, there will be talk of the latest housing fashions of the rich, but not of the needs of the homeless. They will speak of ways to increase rents, not to reduce them. They will present new plans for expensive gated communities, but not for much needed public housing. They will discuss new business opportunities with mega projects in Brazil, Russia and Turkey, but they will not show the consequences, which are often massive evictions.
MIPIM is the emodiment and continuation of the corrosive capitalist approach that has caused untold pain and suffering in recent years and which caused the evictions of hundreds of thousands of families who were in mortgage debt.