Squatting in Argentina

Squatting in Argentina is the occupation of derelict buildings or unused land without the permission of the owner. Shanty towns emerged on the periphery of Buenos Aires from the 1930s onwards and are known as villa miseria. After the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression, 311 worker cooperatives set up across the country as people squatted and re-opened businesses.

country on map
Argentina on globe, marked in dark green
Slum housing next to motorway
Villa 31 in Buenos Aires, 2017
Exterior of building
Hotel Bauen in 2006



Buenos Aires began to industrialize from the 1930s onwards and areas such as Villa Paraíso were squatted becoming shanty towns. Villa Paraíso still exists and experiences violence both from local drug-dealers and police raids. It has also received state aid programs such as Plan Vida (Life Plan).[1] In the greater metropolitan area there are squatted informal settlements such as Barrio San Jorge. This had 630 homes and almost 3,000 inhabitants in 1990.[2]

Around 5,000 squatters occupied Parque Indoamericano in Buenos Aires in 2010 as a housing protest. The events quickly became a political scandal.[3][4] As of 2014, there were 6.5 million Argentinians living in slums known locally as villa miseria.[5] One well-known example is Villa 31 in Buenos Aires, which was founded when Polish migrants occupied derelict railway buildings in the 1930s. By 2019, it was estimated to have 40,000 inhabitants.[5]

During the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression, many businesses closed down. Some were occupied and re-opened by the workers.[6] These projects included Brukman factory, FaSinPat and Hotel Bauen.[7][8] The worker cooperatives operated under the motto "Occupy. Resist. Produce" and by 2014 there were 311 across the country.[8]


  1. ^ Auyero, Javier (2000). "The hyper-shantytown: Neo-liberal violence(s) in the Argentine slum". Ethnography. 1 (1): 93–116. doi:10.1177/14661380022230651. ISSN 1466-1381. JSTOR 24047730. S2CID 145695526.
  2. ^ Hardoy, Ana; Hardoy, Jorge E.; Schusterman, Ricardo (October 1991). "Building community organization: The history of a squatter settlement and its own organizations in Buenos Aires". Environment and Urbanization. 3 (2): 104–120. Bibcode:1991EnUrb...3..104H. doi:10.1177/095624789100300215. S2CID 154753637.
  3. ^ Staff writer (13 December 2010). "Buenos Aires Mayor, the big looser in the squatters-neighbours battle". Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  4. ^ Galliot, Lorena; Sedgwick, Kate (14 December 2010). "Buenos Aires migrant squatters face deadly xenophobic violence". France 24. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b Álvarez de Andrés, Eva; Cabrera, Cecilia; Smith, Harry (April 2019). "Resistance as resilience: A comparative analysis of state-community conflicts around self-built housing in Spain, Senegal and Argentina". Habitat International. 86: 116–125. doi:10.1016/j.habitatint.2019.03.003. S2CID 159113408.
  6. ^ Calafati, Luca (2020). "Squat to Work. Squatted Workspaces, the Commons and Solidarity Economies in Europe". PArtecipazione e COnflitto. 13 (3). doi:10.1285/i20356609v13i3p1252.
  7. ^ Meyer, Laura; Chaves, María (November 2009). "Winds of Freedom: An Argentine Factory under Workers' Control". Socialism and Democracy. 23 (3): 167–179. doi:10.1080/08854300903202640. S2CID 144794888.
  8. ^ a b Kennard, Matt; Caistor-Arendar, Ana (10 March 2016). "Occupy Buenos Aires: The workers' movement that transformed a city, and inspired the world". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2021.