Caño Martín Peña: Land Ownership and Politics Collide in Puerto Rico

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Woman with La Tierra Es Nuestra protest sign

Pundits and politicians across the globe overwhelmingly view the everyday operation of the private market, coupled with some degree of local and state action, as offering the best way forward in tackling a range of thorny, complex issues, including community empowerment, affordable housing, urban planning, gentrification and water pollution.

The Caño Martín Peña community land trust provides students with an opportunity to critically assess an alternative solution — namely, collectivizing land ownership at the scale of a neighborhood and rebalancing decision-making power away from city and state authorities as well as private developers to the communities that make the neighborhood their home.

Using this case, students can analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the CLT model and consider how effective and sustainable it might be in different contexts.