The Tower Of David-The Tallest Slum Of The World
The Tower of David, locally known as Torre de David is known to be the world's tallest slum. It has a lot of controversies surrounding it but today, let's get to know the place from its own people living there.
The construction of Torre de David was started in 1990 on the Centro Financiero Confinanzas, a huge high-rise office complex in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1994, because of banking crisis and the death of the building's main investor, David Brillembourg. Till 2007, the skyscraper remained vacant after which squatters began residing in it as Caracas is very much in need of around 2 million homes. The 45 storeyed building was not looked after the authorities and now around 3,000 residents has made it their homes.
A World In Itself
Torre de David is a world in itself. The first 28 floors are taken over by the residents by basic plumbing. The residents do pool money to pay for some basic facilities and services. They contribute a 200 bolivar (that’s about $32) ‘condominium’ fee that takes care of these amenities, including 24-hour security patrols. The delegates of the tower take responsibility of keeping it clean. There are no elevators and so the residents climb up the stairs to reach their homes. There is a dentist, few shops and a beauty salon too in the tower.
Opinions And Views About Torre de David
The tower is known to be a hub of crimes, drugs and unlawful life. It is said that police often raids the tower in search of kidnapped victims but they get nothing. Viewing it as a rampant disrespect for the property, Guillermo Barrios, a professor of architecture and urbanism, called the Tower of David ‘bad news’. “This is not a better or nice use of an abandoned structure,” he insisted. “In reality, this is the ‘anti-housing’, the ‘anti-residence’, and the government has always looked away from the issue. It is a very violent place. It is completely outside the authority of the law, and they have their own law there". According to Ricardo Jimenez, an occupation organizer at the tower, “Capitalism utilizes housing as a commodity, whereas we see it as a right. A fundamental human right.” He called Tower of David is a sad symbol of what has happened with Venezuelan cities.
Through The Eyes Of The Residents.
The residents of the tower however tell a very different story. Resident Daisy Monsalve added: “They are always saying that this is a slum, that this is dangerous, that criminals live here, that people get raped here, this and that, that we sell drugs. The squat, the invaders, there are criminals there, only murderers live there. This and that. When in reality, me, I’ve lived alone here and nothing has ever happened to me. Never ever". It is also said that the tower is a good place for people looking for apartments in lower price. Like Nicolas Alvarez and his partner. “We’ve been in Torre de David for about two weeks, and it’s been an experience,” said Nicolas. Fortunately, thank God, we were given this opportunity in this space that is at a very low price. We need to do some work, some repairs. We are in favor of that, but we need to make this our home, our space, our apartment". Residents find this place safe and better than the world outside. You can see children playing in the lobby of the tower. Though there are major repairs needed in the tower, it still makes people feel safe and they don't feel like vacating it.
In Need Of Attention
Though the residents living here are actually attached to the place as in words of Daisy, “It is a very wonderful thing to have a place and know where you are going to spend the night. It is not temporary, this is our life.”, but again this place actually needs attention. “The right path would be to relocate these families into adequate residences, adequately planned around a vision of habitat, of housing with integrated public services,” he said. “And then return that tower to its original use. That is what is really needed. Torre de David is not simply a monster that should be eliminated and attacked and defeated. That monster needs to be supported. We need to see how to, hand in hand, with the state.” Let's see what unfolds for the tower.
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