Society 31 July 2015 5 565
An abandoned skyscraper in Caracas has become a shelter for many people with nowhere else to go. In less than 20 years, its residents created a fully-functioning ‘state inside the state’, with its own infrastructure, taxes and even an elected president. Despite the difficult living conditions, those moving out into proper apartments are nevertheless nostalgic about their experience of living in the 45-storey skyscraper. Join RTD to take a peek inside the ‘Tower of David’ and meet its inhabitants.
In the center of Caracas, Venezuela, an abandoned 45-story skyscraper has become a haven for people with nowhere else to go. The “Tower of David”, or “Torre de David”, was the brainchild of billionaire David Brillembourg. Construction began on the project began in 1990, but a financial crisis and the untimely death of its benefactor in 1993 caused work to halt.
The Tower of David stood abandoned until 2007, when people began to move in and occupy it.
It is a “state within a state”. The gates are guarded, and residents have a representative government for each family and floor, and finally the Tower of David even has a president. The families pay about $30 rent per month, which pays for water and electricity, and also join together once a week to clean up rubbish.
Caracas has a high crime rate, and the residents of the Tower of David have to deal with prejudice and discrimination, as they are all thought of as criminals and hooligans. The families living there, however, vehemently deny this notion. Some people may have seen the Tower of David in “Homeland”, a drama which showed the tower as housing terrorists.
There is even a church within in the tower, where we witness the wedding of two of its long-term residents.
Recently, a government resettlement program began, in an effort to move the Tower of David’s residents into proper flats elsewhere. Those living there have mixed feelings, as most are happy to have a place of their own, but feel some nostalgia for the place they called home for so long.
In July 2015, the last of the Caracas Tower of David’s residents were relocated.