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Chapter 1_Mexico, Distrito Federal

 

Changes in Mexican economy in the last fifteen years have had profound effects on territorial organization, both at the national and regional level. They have also influenced urban economies, leading to the demographic and economic growth of medium-sized cities, and to the birth of new models of urban economy.

 

Mexico City has been transformed by an increasingly global yet unstable economy, mixing ephemeral images, a landscape covering complex realities, distant and distinct conditions of a world affected by the consequences imposed by the economic dominance.

 

One of the most characteristic aspects of today's Mexico City are its never-ending suburbs, the so-called "mancha urbana". An urban phenomenon that finds its roots in the 1980s, when Mexican government began to restrain wages due to an unprecedented inflation. Price increases in the city had disastrous effects on the real estate market. Those who had savings or who were employed in those sectors which were mostly developing, took advantage of these market changes, while the majority of the population was forced to revise its territorial strategy.

 

The poor were gradually pushed to the periphery, attracted by cheaper housing prices. Here, illegal compounds were sold at lower prices on so-called "ejidal" lands, a Mexican term referring to a collective rural property.

Despite an average population growth of 1%, in the period between 1980 and 1995, urban growth went from 800 to 1500 square miles, hence doubling in only fifteen years.

 

Therefore, the confinment of the poorest to suburbs coincided with not simply their geographic distance from the city centre, but also with their social and economic isolation.

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