The historic center of Querétaro is one of the most beautiful and emblematic places in the city. It is also a space of great cultural, social and economic value, where different actors and interests converge. However, in recent years, the historic center has undergone a process of transformation that has generated benefits for some, but also problems and conflicts for others. This process is known as gentrification.
Gentrification is a term that refers to the displacement of low-income populations from urban areas that are subject to interventions of improvement, renovation or rehabilitation, which increase the value of the land and the properties, and attract new residents with higher purchasing power. Gentrification is not a natural or spontaneous phenomenon, but rather a planned and intentional strategy that responds to the interests of certain groups, such as real estate developers, investors, businesses and governments.
In the case of Querétaro, the gentrification of the historic center has been driven by various factors, such as the declaration of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, the implementation of urban projects such as the Qrobús and the bicycle lanes, the promotion of tourism and cultural activities, and the arrival of new businesses such as hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes. These factors have contributed to the revitalization and beautification of the historic center, but also to the increase of the real estate market and the cost of living, which has affected the original inhabitants and the traditional commerce.
According to a study by the Autonomous University of Querétaro, between 2000 and 2010, the population of the historic center decreased by 18%, while the number of vacant houses increased by 23%. This indicates that many people have left the historic center, either because they sold their properties, rented them to third parties, or because they could not afford the expenses of living there. On the other hand, the study also shows that the income level and the educational level of the new residents of the historic center are higher than those of the previous ones, which reflects a change in the social composition of the area.
The gentrification of the historic center has also generated tensions and conflicts between different groups and interests. For example, some residents have complained about the noise and insecurity caused by the nightlife, while some business owners have denounced the harassment and extortion by municipal authorities. Moreover, some social organizations have criticized the lack of participation and consultation of the local community in the decision-making processes regarding the urban development of the historic center.
The historic center of Querétaro is a common good that belongs to all the inhabitants of the city, and not only to a privileged few. Therefore, it is necessary to promote a more inclusive, democratic and sustainable urban planning, that respects the rights and needs of the people who live and work in the historic center, and that preserves the historical, cultural and social heritage of the area. Only in this way, the historic center can remain a living and diverse space, and not a museum or a theme park.
Source: Diario de Queretaro