Torre de David is a 45-story, partially-finished office tower that houses a vibrant community of squatters in Caracas. It’s also an internationally-known symbol of Venezuela’s economic troubles, to which the The New Yorker and The New York Times have both devoted long profiles. But there hasn’t been much video documentation of life inside—until now.

Vocative goes inside Torre de David—known as the Centro Financiero Confinanzas before it was abandoned, mid-construction, in 1994—in a new documentary short. Traditionally, Torre de David has been portrayed as a nest of crime (VICE once described it as “full of Caracas’ drug dealers and prostitutes, its disease-ridden and displaced poor”). But Vocativ gets a bit more in-depth, talking to inhabitants and politicians about life inside the tower, which houses around 750 families out of roughly 50,000 displaced people in Caracas.

The reality is more complicated. A good portion of Torre de David’s residents are families who describe it as a godsend—a place to get out of the rain and chaos of the nearby slums. “Tenants” all pay to tap into a communal electricity and water supply. Meanwhile, some inhabitants have turned the bare bones of the building into surprisingly modern apartments, installing windows and lugging flat screens and other comforts into their spaces. A guard watches the entrance, and a motorcycle is available to shuttle residents up the first ten floors. In short, it’s humanity doing what humanity does best—making the best of a bad situation.


Still, since Torre de David is a symbol of the larger economic problems plaguing Venezuela, many politicians would prefer to see it torn down. But advocates disagree, arguing that tearing down one slum (and fairly high-functioning one at that) would only create another. In the words of one resident, “Torre de David is not simply a monster that should be eliminated and attacked and defeated. That monster needs to be supported. We need to see how to, hand in hand, with the state.” If you’re interested in learning more about the tower, this book by a group of architects studying the slum is a good place to start. [The Daily Dish; previously]