The Airbnb-ification of Tenochtitlán, Mexico
Recently, Vice News reported that rents in Mexico City are skyrocketing due to remote workers from various industries moving there during the pandemic and real estate developers taking advantage of a controlled market. If the increase in rental rates due to Airbnb is a global phenomenonAs Emily Green reports, assumptions about Mexico and Latin America are always “our [United States] own yard“continue to play out in a disparate and unequal way.
As Green writes,
“Over the past two years, Mexico City has become a haven for well-paid digital nomads from the United States who are drawn to what locals have always loved: the mild weather, great food, vibrant vibe, and vibrant life. They can also afford to pay rental prices more in line with New York and San Francisco, displacing long-time residents, even unintentionally.”
The report is familiar, however, unlike other major global cities, the Mexico City government has courted AirBnB. Airbnb says the government’s failure to build affordable housing is the problem, as residents protested in the streets. It is unclear what precisely the “involuntary” part of gentrification and displacement means, especially when there is an official “Mexico City Guide Digital Nomad” and the purpose of the capital letter “C” Capitalism is “accumulation by dispossession.”
Like American history taughtdevelopment for some communities means genocide for othersand maybe gentrification is another form of settler colonialism. To be clear, this does not mean. That said, it’s not as if real estate developers and parasites ignore the consequences of ladder markets for those below. Yet the arrogance and attitude of exceptionalism is most striking and not new. This is how empires work. And empires are made up of people who believe the world is theirs to dominate, and those who are dominated should be grateful for the opportunity to survive. Empires are not specific nation-state positions, but ideological positions.
Ari Goot, non-resident real estate developer from Mexico City [Goot’s nationality is not reported]explains his point of view:
“…he is sensitive to the issue of gentrification, but also thinks the complaints are overblown. “You can’t take the good without the bad. If there were no foreigners coming, would it be better for Mexico City? They’re bringing in a lot of money and supporting all these Mexican businesses, employing and hiring people.”
In other words, it’s a zero-sum game, and people should shut up and be grateful. Discover the “Anti-capitalist Chronicles” podcast for a discussion of David Harvey explaining “accumulation through dispossession”.