Since then, it’s been the subject of near-constant media attention and political controversy, particularly among Venezuelans who want the squatters kicked out. But rarely do reporters get a view like the one Vocativ recorded from the 23rd floor, as part of this mini-documentary and video tour of the iconic site:
Because the Tower of David doesn’t have elevators, the camera crew had to take motorcycles up to the 10th floor from the parking garage and then climb stairs the rest of the way — standard procedure for many of the 2,500-plus people who live in the building. Residents have also cobbled together electrical and plumbing systems and organized a co-op — especially amazing when you consider that things like toilets and sinks have to be hauled up several floors.
Though now-deceased former president Hugo Chavez was not in office at the time of the '94 banking collapse, the building is still seen as what the New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson once called “the ultimate symbol” of Chavez’s failure as an economic reformer. Venezuela suffers from a serious and unresolved housing shortage, which is part of why squatting — in racetracks, abandoned buildings or motels — can be common. The question is whether the country's new leader, Nicholas Maduro, could reverse that backslide. Early forecasts show little cause for optimism, unfortunately.