The proliferation of informal settlements is one of the most relevant consequences of the
urbanization process that has been affecting most of the cities in the Global South. Among
the different ways to cope with this issue, the regularization of informal settlements through
land titling has been one of the main shared strategies that scholars and policy makers have
focused on for the last twenty years. A relevant and well-known contribution concerning this
issue is the one provided by the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto. Defined together,
one of the best economists in the world, and the ‘guru of neo-liberal populism’, de Soto
attracts both important endorsements and harsh criticisms for his theories. The contribution
of this paper is to provide a detailed framework of de Soto main achievements, in terms of his
current institutional influence and the international impact of his ideas, in contraposition with
an analysis of the most relevant critiques developed against his theories.
Keywords: informality; property rights; extra-legality; poverty reduction.