Caracas, July 31st 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A week into a government-initiated relocation plan, 25 percent of the 1,156 families occupying the Torre Confianzas in downtown Caracas have been moved to new housing in Valles de Tuy, Miranda state, Minister Ernesto Villegas announced this morning.
Better known as the Torre de David, after its former owner, businessman David Brillembourg, the 45-story building saw its construction abandoned in 1994 following Brillembourg’s death and the bankruptcy of his consortium, Confianzas, amid an escalating financial crisis under President Rafael Caldera. A group of squatters took over the building in 2007.
The government initiated a survey last November to determine the number of residents in the tower, later setting the number at 4,438. After holding an assembly with residents to discuss options moving forward, Villegas announced the relocation earlier this month due to the tower’s “unsustainable [living] situation.”
“It’s a diverse community … [with] engineers, firefighters, teachers, lawyers, labor workers,” Villegas said, emphasizing that characterizations of the tower as gang-ridden and full of criminals were exaggerated. “Each floor has its own spokespeople, residents are designated for the upkeep of common spaces. Their organization allowed us to carry out this process in a concerted, harmonious, and organized way.”
Villegas noted that while at first there was mutual distrust among members of both the Torre de David and Ciudad Zamora, where the residents are being relocated, organized visits and meetings have allowed the communities to begin a process of “recognition and fusion.”
The government has provided former Torre de David residents with apartments through Misión Vivienda, its mass housing construction program.
“After seven years of struggle and suffering, this is a real dream come true for us,” Oscar Colemnares, a former Torre de David resident with a wife and two daughters, told a community newspaper upon receiving his new apartment.
Though rumors have spread that the building was being evacuated at the behest of Chinese businessmen interested in its redevelopment following the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Caracas last week, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro indicated that the space would most likely be used for the creation of new cultural center, with concrete discussions set to begin in August.
“It seems that the most viable and recommended option after closing the Torre de David is to tear it down, and build a space to share with the Caracas community, a space for cultural recreation, where we could build an acoustic theatre for concerts,” Maduro said.
“It will be a day of happiness, the day when we close the Torre de David and all its families are living with their children, in dignity, in their homes,” he added.