Venezuela’s world-famous ‘vertical slum’ may be demolished

An abandoned Caracas skyscraper dubbed the world’s tallest shanty-town after a squatters’ takeover could be demolished once its inhabitants are out, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday. Soldiers and officials began this week moving out the first 160 of more than 1,150 families living inside the 45-story “Tower of David” in central Caracas. They are going to government-provided low-income housing outside the capital. Maduro said it was an error to let people live so long in such a precarious structure, where some people died falling off ledges. The state is studying various options for the tower.

Some are proposing its demolition. Others are proposing turning it into an economic centre. Some are proposing building homes there.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro

Originally intended to be a bank centre but left unfinished in 1994, the vast concrete skeleton was viewed by many Venezuelans as a focus for crime and symbol of property “invasions”. Police occasionally raided it hunting kidnappers. The squatters said the tower was a safe refuge from dangerous slums and something of a model community. They built carefully divided apartments and established shops and services inside, bricking up holes to keep children safe.

If we demolish it, it’s to build something new for the local community.

Nicolas Maduro