As Mexico City has sprawled ever wider across the landscape, multitudes of new neighborhoods have been created. Many are the result of well-planned land seizures, orchestrated by groups of people attracted by the promise of the city.
- Technically, such land seizures are illegal; and a primary goal of the colonos (inhabitants of these low-income communities) is legitimization and consequent community participation.
- Beginning in the 1970s, colonos pursued their demands for legitimization through protest movements and demonstrations, some of which revealed a surprising degree of radicalism.
- In response, the Mexican government adopted a two-track policy: It selectively repressed the best-organized and most radical groups of colonos, and it tried to co-opt the remainder through negotiation. In the early 1980s, the government created "Citizen Representation" bodies, official channels within Mexico City through which colonos could participate.