Venezuelan soldiers and officials begin moving hundreds of families out of a half-built 45-storey skyscraper that dominates the Caracus skyline and is thought to be the tallest slum in the world.
The mass eviction from the “Tower of David”, originally intended to be a bank centre, was later home to some 3,000 needy Venezuelans. Nicknamed after its David Brillembourg, the skyscraper symbolised property “invasions” encouraged by the country’s late leader Hugo Chavez.
Since the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994, more than 750 families have been squatting in what some have called a vertical slum.
The Torre David is well-known for its appearance in US hit drama series Homeland, in which protagonist Brody, played by Damian Lewis, is nursed back to health after being shot.
Authorities began evicting tenants yesterday morning to Ciudad Zamora, south east of Caracas, Minister for the revolutionary transformation of the city Ernesto Villegas told local newspaper El Pais. According to Mr Villegas, “The tower does not meet the minimum conditions for safe, dignified living.”
President Nicolas Maduro has not expressed what he is planning to do with the building, although local reports suggested that Chinese banks were keen on restoring it for its original purpose.
Humberto Hidalgo, a 56-year-old tenant living on the seventh floor with his wife and ten children, told El Pais that he did “not know where we are going or how long we will stay here,” adding that “I know that our president will provide a decent home”.
An initial 160 families, out of a total of more than 1,150 were being moved out this week, Reuters reported.
“This is all thanks to the ‘comandante’,” said Carlos Francisco, 36, a plastics factory worker referring to Chavez. “First, that he let us live here. And now that he built us new homes. May he rest in peace.”