Welcome to the world's tallest slum: poverty-ridden Venezuela's Tower of David. Squatters took over this very unfinished 45-story skyscraper in the early 1990s, and they've been there ever since. The tower was originally intended to be a symbol of Caracas' bright financial future, complete with a rooftop helipad, but construction stopped because of a banking crisis and the sudden death of the tower's namesake, David Brillembourg.
Today, as the government is grappling with a citywide housing shortage, the tower is a stark monument to what could have been in the country's crime-plagued capital. The tower is dogged by accusations of being a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption.
This business of the building being filled with all manner of criminals sure sounds suspicious, sounds too easy, sounds like the usual sort of thing that automatically rolls off the tongues of those who relentlessly promote climates that are only friendly to business interests. And sure enough, this seems to be the case:
The story quotes neighbors talking of drug dealers and prostitutes. But the building residents say that while there used to be a crime problem, today, it is the safest place around. In my three times there, a few hours each, I did encounter one guy who was drugged out, but nobody who seemed like a dealer. To the contrary, I met a lot of people who were aggressively evangelical about Christianity and who were pushing everyone they met to eliminate vices from their lives — even alcohol and extramarital sex. The presence of the guard is exactly what gives the lie to the neighbors’ claim that thugs take refuge there. In fact, before the building was squatted, it was a crackhouse where thugs came and went freely
A camera team visits the tower and finds human inhabitants...