by Kate Watkins
Monday night began the relocation process of thousands of inhabitants living in Venezuela’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world’s tallest slum, according to reports by Venezuelan newspaper Últimas Noticias, BBC Mundo and tweets from journalists following the coverage. The relocation initiative is being carried out by the Interior and Justice Ministry, and comes just five days after the announcement that the Venezuelan government is in negotiations with Chinese banks interested in purchasing the building.
Negotiations with Chinese banks are being led by the Minister of State for the Revolutionary Transformation of Greater Caracas, Ernesto Villegas, and would involve the relocation of the tower’s current tenants to Cúa, a city 53 kilometers outside of the capital, possibly in December of this year.
However, prior to the disclosure of the negotiations, the government had announced that they would perform “an analysis of the community in order to take the steps necessary to improve the living conditions and environment” of the tower’s residents.
Yet despite this announcement to improve the living conditions, the government reportedly began relocating the Tower of David’s residents on July 21 at 10pm. The relocation is being carried out floor-by-floor and the inhabitants will be moved to housing solutions, primarily in Valles del Tuy, in Miranda state.
The Tower of David negotiation coincides with the close of the XII China-Venezuela High Level Bi-national Committee, and the signing of 38 new cooperation agreements between both countries in addition to US$4bn in loans from China.
The Tower of David is an unfinished financial skyscraper in downtown Caracas, whose construction was abandoned in 1994, a victim of the country’s banking crisis. Although the tower has been in the hands of the state since the halt of construction, in 2007 two thousand homeless citizens took over and inhabited the skyscraper, making it the tallest vertical slum in the world. Despite not having any elevators, the Tower of David is inhabited by over 5,000 people who live and work within the first 28 of the Tower’s 44 floors. In 2012, it was the subject of Iwan Baan’s Golden Lion-winning pavilion at the Venice Biennale.