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Jul 24
The 45-storey skyscraper that the Venezuelan entrepreneur David Brillembourg began building in the booming financial centre of Caracas of the early 1990s never did become the emblem of abundance its late owner intended it to be. A banking crisis truncated his dream.

But 20 years later, the incomplete Torre Confinanzas, or Torre de David (Tower of David) as it most widely known, with its staircases that lead nowhere and ramps that spiral into infinity is experiencing something of a renaissance – not as a home for a prosperous bank, but 2,500 squatters.

The squat, thought to be the tallest anywhere in the world, is an eyesore for President Hugo Chávez and his supporters, a reminder that basic housing for millions is a problem in their oil-rich country: 51% of the population lives in precarious shantytowns with no access to basic services. In the capital city alone, there is a shortage of almost 400,000 houses. With little access to loans, and a permissive attitude from the Chavista government towards land invasions and illegal takeovers, squatting has become one of the few housing options people have.

The 45-storey skyscraper that the Venezuelan entrepreneur David Brillembourg began building in the booming financial centre of Caracas of the early 1990s never did become the emblem of abundance its late owner intended it to be. A banking crisis truncated his dream.

But 20 years later, the incomplete Torre Confinanzas, or Torre de David (Tower of David) as it most widely known, with its staircases that lead nowhere and ramps that spiral into infinity is experiencing something of a renaissance – not as a home for a prosperous bank, but 2,500 squatters.

The squat, thought to be the tallest anywhere in the world, is an eyesore for President Hugo Chávez and his supporters, a reminder that basic housing for millions is a problem in their oil-rich country: 51% of the population lives in precarious shantytowns with no access to basic services. In the capital city alone, there is a shortage of almost 400,000 houses. With little access to loans, and a permissive attitude from the Chavista government towards land invasions and illegal takeovers, squatting has become one of the few housing options people have.


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