In this article I highlight the political work of Nicaraguan migrants living in the informal settlement of La Carpio in San José, Costa Rica, as they negotiate rights in the form of urban services. Nicaraguans in La Carpio have organized politically since 1993 to self-instal, demand, and negotiate services such as potable water and electricity. In the process, they successfully compel local authorities to allocate these services and grant them an implicit recognition of their right to remain and live a decent life, regardless of their status. These migrant struggles to improve urban life, the political subjectification they engender, and the mechanisms for rights-claiming that they open, show a different articulation of citizenship and political agency largely absent in the literature on migrants, refugees, and noncitizens, shaped in global North contexts: the predominance of urban informality as a means for migrants to negotiate with institutions of power the allocation of substantive rights. Moreover, in the absence of direct engagement with and challenge to the national migration regime, Nicaraguan migrants are able to weave the fabric upon which their own continuous practice of citizenship rests through their quotidian, informal interactions with state servicing authorities in La Carpio.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations