non-car mass transit (air transit) alternative from Medellin Colombia, Metrocable
- http://www.poma.net/english/actualite/evenements/medellin/info.htm and click link at bottom
HISTORY OF THE "COMUNAS"
The hills of the city of medillin are known as "Comunas". They are where the poorest were dooped into buying a piece of property (without title) or in other cases a family would invade a piece of property on a parcel without any infrastuture. Some of these Comunas started as card-board cities, where homes often slid down the hill as a result of a strong rain-storm. Somebody would always have to remain home to protect the cardboard home and tin roof home from being stolen. With astonishing speed many of these cardboard communities were transformed into concrete and brick communities numbering over 100,000. The growth was often not accompanied by running water, sewage systems or paved roads. Private public transport did not dare risk venturing into sections of the Comunas, especially the higher ones, so as a result people walk down in trips that take over a half hour in order to reach public transport. In the 80's, Pablo Escobar built a powerful criminal base in the Comunas.
Following the disentegration of Escobars crimnal infrastructure the Comunas were taken over by Marxist Militias and other numerous gangs. The criminal mix extorted the private bus systems that covered the routes to the point of colapse. In the 90's the Comunas became the battle ground between the AUC Paramilitaries and Marxist Militias. Whole neighorhoods were depopulated as a result of the violence. Stray bullets from the firefights even killed students in the university from the lower area. Today a relative tense calm prevades in these areas as the government has begun a process of negotiation with the Paramilitary and Drug (the paramilitary leader Adolfo Paz and ex associate of Pablo Escobar is rumured to have assasinated a founder of the AUC, Carlos Castano) traficking elements who now effect certain control.
For the Comunas, Metrocable today represents much more than a new transit system, it represents the hope that can help in overcoming their social and economic exclusion. These innovative ideas can also be applied to serve the people of the Favelas of Brazil or the poor hillside communities of Caracas.
From Gustavo Ortiz (New York City)
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