Tuesday 18 January 2011

Activists Confront Local Authorties

On Jan. 14, members of the Tenants Defense Committee and ZSP confronted local authorities in the Praga neighbourhood. The local government is now led by people put in place by the ruling neo-liberal party, in part of a procedural manipulation to take control over the two neighbourhoods in Warsaw where they were not elected. Such maneouvres (too complicated to explain here) have been going on for three years. To give a small hint, the head of the local council made a break in a session years ago and did not reopen the session. Later it was claimed that the session was never ended and subsequent ones were thus never legally opened. All decisions taken for a couple of years were then considered invalid and revoted in one session last year. Currently, a similar maneouvre took place, and thus the elected authorities could not be confirmed and the President installed her people, who subsequently tried to delay things for months.

Although we do not support any of the factions in the local council, we understand that the maneouvres of the President of the City is strictly connected to the desire to control this neighbourhood in particular, in order to speed up the gentrification process. It is significant that the authorities did not want to appoint a housing commission, which is the body responsible for assignining municipal housing. Without a commission appointed, there would be no way for anybody to get public housing in the neighbourhood. Therefore, we reminded then of our demands that the neighbourhoods be under popular control and said that if there is no housing commission, that we form it ourselves and tell people which flats are free and encourage people to go live there. The authorities then decided that it is better for them to appoint a commission.

Protestors showed up with a wheelbarrow to take away the politicians and interrupted the session with the protest, reminding them of the problems of the neighbourhood and our postulates. We also opposed the continued manipulations and interference of the President in local matters and the attempts to override and overturn the results of the elections.