The Tower of David - The Worlds Tallest Slum

Ghetto in the sky!

The Tower of David

Centro Financiero Confinanzas

The worlds tallest slum.

The "Torre de David" Named after David Brillembourg.

Intended to be a symbol of Caracas bright financial future, an emblem of Venezuela's entrepreneurial spirit.

Now, a representation of Venezuela's decline.

David Brillembourg began building the Tower in 1990, he died in 1993 at the age of 56. He had invested his life savings into the construction of the building, but during the banking crisis of 1994 the government seized the building and it has never been completed to this very day.

It is the third highest skyscraper in capital city of Caracas, Venezuela, forty-five stories high, 190 metres. It was never meant to be lived in.

The Slum Scraper as it is called today, is a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption.  It sits unfinished with no elevators, no electricity, no running water, no windows or railings, from which many children have fallen to their deaths, nor walls in many rooms. The smell from garbage and human waste in the halls is unbearable. 

By October of 2007, the occupation was led by Alexander Daza a former gang member, turned religious leader in prison. During massive housing shortages he led the occupation of the building by squatters (estimated to be 700 families or 2,500 people), who improvised, running electricity and water up to the 22nd floor. People now live up to the 30th floor. There's a supermarket and many small stores and offices for unlicensed professionals to practice their trades. 

The squatters even park their cars in the underground parking lot. There is no need for the heliport on the roof. It's never been used.

The building complex consists of six buildings, the El Atrio, or lobby. Two towers, A and B with the heliport, two big buildings Edificio K and Edificio Z. Plus 12 stories of parking space.

The building has gained fame by being the set for an episode of the US Television Drama Homeland filmed basically in Puerto Rico.  

The Tower before in 1994 and after in 2012

Surprisingly, for a building that has the best view of Caracas, dozens of Direct TV satellite dishes can be seen on balconies blocking that view. 

The squatters feel they are not stealing anything. Families pay approximately $15 a month to live there, which pays for the electricity and water up to the 22nd floor. 

Most of the squatters agree with Mr. Daza that living conditions in the Tower can be resolved through negotiation. But many of the residents of Caracas do not.  It's a symbol of anarchy.

"It is like rewarding the man who steals because he is hungry. No, this act of invasion is not justified. It (the tower) cannot be simply handed over to the squatters."

Residents claim, it is better than the streets and the surrounding slums that can be seen on the hillsides in the distance from the tower.  It's a place they call home.

So... next time you call your landlord to complain about something, think of the Tower of David.  You might not call.

Dog Brindle

1 comment:

Rea de Miranda said...

Hopefully my tenant doesn't become a squatter in my apartment. Goodness this is insane!