Ciudad Netzahualcóyotl, or "Netza," is a municipality of the state of Mexico. It was created in 1964 to incorporate more than forty separate colonias populares, illegal settlements on part of the desiccated bed of Lake Texcoco that formed a large, low-income tract on Mexico City's eastern corridor. Originally state-owned, the land was conditionally privatized for agricultural improvements that were never undertaken. Instead the lands were acquired by unscrupulous real estate companies that sold off some 160,000 lots of between 150 and 300 square meters, without services or titles, to low-income families, who then built their own homes.
The population of the nascent municipality was 70,000 in 1964; by 1970 it had grown to 610,000 and by 1990 to 1.26 million, stabilizing thereafter (actually showing a slight decline to 1,140,528, according to the midterm census in 2005). Population densification, lot subdivision, and the expansion of rental accommodation have converted Netza into a tract of high-density colonia popular neighborhoods. The total lack of services in the late 1960s and 1970s caused a major political crisis that eventually led the government to establish a trust fund for the installation of services by the local municipal authorities, and for the transfer of legal titles to the de facto owners. In the early twenty-first century, the area is fully serviced, most roads are paved, and a growing proportion of the population rent one or two rooms in small informal tenements or share a lot with kinsmen. The low-income home-ownership frontier has moved farther east and northeast.
Patron-clientelism originally made this a bastion of support for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). However, the municipality has come to be run by a sequence of mayors from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), which has also dominated the Federal District of Mexico City since direct elections were implemented in 1997.
De la Rosa, Martín. Netzahualcoyótl, un fenómeno. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1974.
Garza, Gustavo, ed. La Ciudad de México en el fin del segundo milenio. Mexico: El Colegio de México y el Gobierno del Distrito Federal, 2000.
Ward, Peter. Mexico: Megaciudad—Desarrollo y política, 1970–2002, 2nd edition. Mexico: Colegio Mexiquense y Miguel Angel Porrúa, 2004.
Peter M. Ward