There's no AC and some units are a 27-story walk-up, but at least there's satellite TV. Torre de David, which almost sounds like a luxury condo but is actually a half-built commercial skyscraper in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas that squatters have been living in since 2007. While this isn' t the first we heard of Torre de David in the U.S. (The New York Times has reported on it, for example), Foreign Policy offers maybe the most intimate look at squatters' lives there yet with a photo slideshow from Ángela Bonadies and Juan José Olavarría (with accompanying article). While Americans might be tempted to look on with some schadenfreude at such a development failure in communist Venezuela, we can't help but admire how homey and industrious some ordinary Venezuelans have made their concrete abodes. Here's a bit of what life is like in this strange, self-sustaining community.
They may have cable, but basic services, such as elevators, are lacking. Neighbors say the building houses drug dealers and prostitutes. Thugs take shelter there after committing crimes, and the police refuse to follow them. Security is provided by the residents themselves, who man the doors. I entered the building but was immediately asked to leave by one guard.
No elevators: so yes, it's a walk-up. Developer David Brillembourg died in 1993 before the 45-story building (the first 27 are occupied) was complete, and the banks it was passed along to went under themselves during a financial crisis a year later. Brillembourg obviously is the namesake of the Torre de David (Spanish for "Tower of David"), what we're guessing is an allusion to Jerusalem's Tower of David, sometimes claimed to be a palace of the Biblical King David. So the name's a bit tongue-in-cheek, since this "palace" is currently housing some nearly 3,000 homeless.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.