Venezuela moves to empty world's tallest slum

More than 100 families relocated from Tower of David, unfinished 45-storey building in Caracas, home to 3,000 people.

    Venezuela moves to empty world's tallest slum
    The Tower of David has been described by some as the world's tallest shantytown [Reuters]

    Venezuelan authorities have begun moving residents out of the Tower of David, a skyscraper notorious as a haven for squatters and gangs in the capital, Caracas.

    More than 100 families have been relocated from the unfinished 45-storey building, the start of an operation by military authorities to clear a longtime symbol of festering poverty and lawlessness in the heart of the Venezuelan capital.

    As we all know, this is a structure that does not have the minimum conditions for a life that is safe and lived with dignity

    Ernesto Villegas, the minister for revolutionary transformation

    The Tower of David, which was remade into a forbidding warren of makeshift shelters with armed guards - and has been called the world's tallest shantytown, has been home to about 3,000 people.

    On Tuesday morning, several dozen residents were seen exiting the building with their belongings, and boarding government vehicles to be taken to new homes outside the city.

    Ernesto Villegas, the minister for revolutionary transformation, stated that the relocation of the building's residents was "not an eviction." "It's a coordinated operation, in harmony with the community in the tower."

    "Today we have begun with floors seven, nine and twenty-eight," he said, adding that those leaving were being voluntarily resettled in government housing in Ciudad Zamora, outside Caracas.

    "As we all know, this is a structure that does not have the minimum conditions for a life that is safe and lived with dignity," said Villegas.

    Communal organisation

    The building's construction was halted in 1993 after a financial crisis and the death of its owner, investor David Brillembourg. It was taken over in 2007 by gangs and homeless people during the governance of the late President Hugo Chavez.

    Its inhabitants created a communal organisation to maintain order within the building, taking turns keeping floors polished and common areas clean and secure.

    It was unclear why the government has decided to clear the building seven years after it was taken over.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.