How do you solve a problem like La Torre de David? (Updated)

I couldn’t get Peter Wilson’s heartbreaking article and accompanying photo-essay on Caracas’ vertical slums out of my head the whole day.

The piece, published in ForeignPolicy.com, is devastating. It paints a society in utter freefall – literally, until the squatters put brick railings to protect themselves.

The money quote:

They may have cable, but basic services, such as elevators, are lacking. Neighbors say the building houses drug dealers and prostitutes. Thugs take shelter there after committing crimes, and the police refuse to follow them. Security is provided by the residents themselves, who man the doors. I entered the building but was immediately asked to leave by one guard.

“You just can’t walk in here like that. This is private property,” he said, ignoring the irony in his statement.

Obviously, these people can’t live in an abandoned office tower forever … right? I mean, as a society, we need to find a proper place for them to live in. But … how?

How do you get them to leave their high-rise? Do you make life intolerable for them until they just leave? Do you offer them money? Do you force them out? If you do, where will they go? And if you give them money, doesn’t that send the signal that invading a high-profile landmark is your ticket to a home?

Perhaps they easiest solution is simply … to let them be.

Update: Setty provides some interesting context in the comments:

“Wilson’s article gets one thing exactly right: Property rights and housing investment are all messed up in Venezuela, and those two issues are closely related. But Torre David does not show what he says it shows.

The story quotes neighbors talking of drug dealers and prostitutes. But the building residents say that while there used to be a crime problem, today, it is the safest place around. In my three times there, a few hours each, I did encounter one guy who was drugged out, but nobody who seemed like a dealer. To the contrary, I met a lot of people who were aggressively evangelical about Christianity and who were pushing everyone they met to eliminate vices from their lives — even alcohol and extramarital sex. The presence of the guard is exactly what gives the lie to the neighbors’ claim that thugs take refuge there. In fact, before the building was squatted, it was a crackhouse where thugs came and went freely — and that predated Chavez. Today, it is better controlled, and probably has stricter rules for residents than a lot of other buildings in La Candelaria. There are probably thieves living there along with the bank manager, priest, chef and soccer coach I met; but by that definition, thugs “take refuge” in their homes all over Caracas. So rather than showing how Chavismo has caused this horrible blight, the article could talk about how Chavismo has allowed people to convert a horrible blight into a bearable campsite while they get their lives together.

What the article failed to get at, because Peter didn’t talk to enough residents and the founders, is that Torre David is a symptom of the handout society. Many of the people who live there are just trying to pressure the government into giving them free homes. Most don’t want to be there for long. I met one couple there who had moved from an apartment in Chacao just after the birth of their son. They moved to Torre David because the rent was cheaper (100 bolivars a month, down from a few thousand) and they said they figured if they stayed a while, the government might give them a home. It’s a very strange way of cutting the line to social housing. I don’t mean to discount the plight of the many people who must either live there or live in the faroff suburbs of Antimano and Petare and spend hours getting to and from work. But Torre David is not the hellhole it’s made out to be. It has churches, a child care center, great views, and convenience stores on almost every floor. The people who live there are doing something very similar to those who shut down a highway to try and get a sewer line to their barrio, or who block the border to get more access to cheap smuggle-able petrol. So many people are trying to get a handout, and this is largely another way to get one.

As far as what is to be done? First of all, a massive construction effort in Caracas, as soon as property rights are stabilized. The heart of the issue, as Wilson says, is the lack of proper housing. He says that Caracas has little space for more housing, but that is just silly. There are great expanses of both stupid open space (think La Carlota, the above-ground freeways, the big parking areas around UCV or CCCT, and countless strip malls, even in high-value areas like Los Palos Grandes) and low-density slum housing that could quickly be converted into good urbanism — 5-story buildings at 100 units an acre, housing thousands of people while providing dignified streets, space for stores and jobs, and full public services (like a normal city).

And what is to be done with Torre David? It is probably damaged beyond repair, but who knows — it was salvagable when Fogade almost sold it in 2005, and it would take a good engineering team to see whether it could be salvaged now. Getting the current residents into casas dignas shouldn’t be so hard. Then, it’s just a technical issue to fix or demolish the tower.”

120 thoughts on “How do you solve a problem like La Torre de David? (Updated)

  1. “Obviously, these people can’t live in an abandoned office tower forever … right? ”

    How is the Torre David different than a cerro?

  2. juan

    once upon a time i did publish pictures of slums and people leaving in rt holes along the Guaire. but i stopped doing so because, besides being depressing, i felt people simply did not take me seriously enough on that matter (in those days PSF were still leaving comments on our blogs). so let’s be thankful that foreign policy writes on that so maybe we can start doing so ourselves again.

    • by the way, i did walk around the sambil a week ago when i had to go to CADIVI for some paperwork. the description is accurate except that the article should have stressed that only the parking area has received refugees, the rest of the mall is still empty. still being of course the key word. but the thing is that “arranging” a parking for refugees is not too difficult whereas shops without windows and needing AC is another matter.

  3. That is a nice fucking highrise rancho right there. Why kick them out?

    highly organized too, they got cable, hair salons, bodegas, day cares… I mean where would you rather have the prostitutes and drug dealers? This is some highly orginized stuff and I’m glad they are doing well.

  4. Wilson’s article gets one thing exactly right: Property rights and housing investment are all messed up in Venezuela, and those two issues are closely related. But Torre David does not show what he says it shows.

    The story quotes neighbors talking of drug dealers and prostitutes. But the building residents say that while there used to be a crime problem, today, it is the safest place around. In my three times there, a few hours each, I did encounter one guy who was drugged out, but nobody who seemed like a dealer. To the contrary, I met a lot of people who were aggressively evangelical about Christianity and who were pushing everyone they met to eliminate vices from their lives — even alcohol and extramarital sex. The presence of the guard is exactly what gives the lie to the neighbors’ claim that thugs take refuge there. In fact, before the building was squatted, it was a crackhouse where thugs came and went freely — and that predated Chavez. Today, it is better controlled, and probably has stricter rules for residents than a lot of other buildings in La Candelaria. There are probably thieves living there along with the bank manager, priest, chef and soccer coach I met; but by that definition, thugs “take refuge” in their homes all over Caracas. So rather than showing how Chavismo has caused this horrible blight, the article could talk about how Chavismo has allowed people to convert a horrible blight into a bearable campsite while they get their lives together.

    What the article failed to get at, because Peter didn’t talk to enough residents and the founders, is that Torre David is a symptom of the handout society. Many of the people who live there are just trying to pressure the government into giving them free homes. Most don’t want to be there for long. I met one couple there who had moved from an apartment in Chacao just after the birth of their son. They moved to Torre David because the rent was cheaper (100 bolivars a month, down from a few thousand) and they said they figured if they stayed a while, the government might give them a home. It’s a very strange way of cutting the line to social housing. I don’t mean to discount the plight of the many people who must either live there or live in the faroff suburbs of Antimano and Petare and spend hours getting to and from work. But Torre David is not the hellhole it’s made out to be. It has churches, a child care center, great views, and convenience stores on almost every floor. The people who live there are doing something very similar to those who shut down a highway to try and get a sewer line to their barrio, or who block the border to get more access to cheap smuggle-able petrol. So many people are trying to get a handout, and this is largely another way to get one.

    As far as what is to be done? First of all, a massive construction effort in Caracas, as soon as property rights are stabilized. The heart of the issue, as Wilson says, is the lack of proper housing. He says that Caracas has little space for more housing, but that is just silly. There are great expanses of both stupid open space (think La Carlota, the above-ground freeways, the big parking areas around UCV or CCCT, and countless strip malls, even in high-value areas like Los Palos Grandes) and low-density slum housing that could quickly be converted into good urbanism — 5-story buildings at 100 units an acre, housing thousands of people while providing dignified streets, space for stores and jobs, and full public services (like a normal city).

    And what is to be done with Torre David? It is probably damaged beyond repair, but who knows — it was salvagable when Fogade almost sold it in 2005, and it would take a good engineering team to see whether it could be salvaged now. Getting the current residents into casas dignas shouldn’t be so hard. Then, it’s just a technical issue to fix or demolish the tower.

    • Steve,
      I agree with you in the fact the handout society in Venezuela is completely running amok, property rights are absolute mess there.
      Now: why do we insist in putting more people in Caracas? Why do we insist we put people in the Valles de Aragua? Only in underdeveloped nations – from Venezuela and Congo through China and in stuck nations such as Russia do I see that everyone feels the need to move to the capital or the main two urban centres, anyone.

      We need to create reasons for people to move to Calabozo, El Sombrero, Pueblo Llano, El Tigre, Biscucuy, etc.

      How?

      – start moving national organizations: Britain, Germany, even France have all the national centres of such things as federal tax collection, VAT, the ministry of Justice, research departments, in secondary cities.
      – Firstly those functionaries will start moving there, then some employees, then some employees of employees and so on.
      – Make a revolution in the road system. Right now there are no real motorways or even national roads leading anywhere. You should be able to cross Guárico or Monagas via a couple of real motorways, hopefully in the future also train system. Introduce real control of those motor roads and tax people based on car ownership.
      etc

      Forget about trying to solve everything in bloody Caracas or Valencia.
      The would-like-to-be-writer or painter, the occasional family do really want to be in Caracas. The others simply want to be in a place with a decent job, a place to live.

      Of course, you don’t do what Chávez tried to do, which was create a couple of urbanizations in the middle of nowhere without not only the most basic extra infrastructure but without jobs to go.

      • By the way: I am not for moving the national centre of SENIAT to Biscucuy or Boconó,
        those places should be the places where the Carlos Del Pozo National Centre for Biology Research (financed with the billions we are spending on Russian weapons now) should be allocated. We could move VAT centres to Calabozo or El Tigre.
        Apart from that decentralise as much as possible as long as it goes with transparency: every cent should be visualized not via scanned and unreadable Fonden pages but in a formatted way, every contract allocated in every region should be checked out, etc.

        Another thing: pay very good salaries to top teachers who decide to move to Calabozo.
        Promote living in Calabozo or El Tigre. I am sure teacher’s unions will protest but we need this: make new generations of teachers better prepared, make people want to move to Calabozo like people in Germany or in Britain can imagine living in Aberdeen or Augsburg. Geographically Venezuela does present some important challenges, as temperatures in El Tigre at noon are not the same as they are (were) in Caracas. But creativity is required for this, open dialogue: right urbanism, energy supply, etc.

        Disclaimer: I can prove I have not a single drop of Llanero blood in my veins. It’s just as good for for us to think about developing those areas. Already Humboldt was warning about the threat from the Llanos if we didn’t see to the needs of people there.

        Diosdado is from the Eastern Llanos. Soto is from the Central Llanos. Chávez is from the Western Llanos. Late Lina Ron was from Northeastern Llanos. Venezuela would be something else had Chávez stayed in Sabaneta as a sports teacher, but he couldn’t eke out a living as one, thus he became a soldier.

        Most people living right now in Los Guayos, Carabobo, who are voting for Chávez (54%) weren’t there 2 generations earlier. They came from Los Llanos (and also from Falcón).
        Something similar goes for the new inhabitants of Antímano, etc.

        Misery has a lot to do with social dislocation, which also has a lot to do with people displaced, without any link to the places they are inhabiting (of course, and all the rest: education, etc).

      • And, may I add, a final measure would be to make quite expensive to get into Caracas. If you don’t need to come to Caracas, then stay out of it.

        Of course, before setting up the old toll booths in La Guaira and Tazon, you have to make sure that there are real alternatives for people to solve their issues in, say, Calabozo.

        • Setty,

          Your comment is better than the original article! Thanks for that.

          I still don’t understand why people want to leave there, though. If it’s so great, why do they want to move? It’s a great location and it’s crime free. You don’t get that anywhere else in Caracas.

          Also – they pay rent?! To whom?!

          • “They moved to Torre David because the rent was cheaper (100 bolivars a month, down from a few thousand)” That was my question as well. Who collects the rent and what is it spent on?

          • People want to leave because that “inadequate” sewerage is, basically, a few pipes that burst all the time and drip human waste down the (unused) elevator shaft. It smells bad. The safety issue is important. You go up 10 flights without a railing — not a great place for kids. The lack of elevators is especially rough for families on the upper floors — it is inhabited up to floor 26, while the mototaxis up the parking deck will get you only to floor 10. So, yes, people want to leave. But not for just anywhere — for the most part, they have come from worse situations in barrios.

            As far as the rent — there is a cooperative, which serves as a condo association. It’s not really rent, it’s more like gastos comunes to pay for water and light, among other things.

            • “…for the most part, they have come from worse situations in barrios.”

              An indication that, given the economic means, they would voluntarily move just as readily away to improved situations.

    • Sapitosetty,

      Observing your following statement:

      “rather than showing how Chavismo has caused this horrible blight, the article could talk about how Chavismo has allowed people to convert a horrible blight into a bearable campsite while they get their lives together.”

      I have several points to make….

      With that kind of logic we convince quite a few people of the “good intentions” of Chavez, instead of looking at the reality which you might not capture with your limited knowledge of barrio living in Venezuela.If Chavez had wanted to really help, he would have kept the building for the jobs and relocated these people to safer and , healthier areas in the interior.

      He needs to be building 100,000 units A YEAR instead just to keep up with the growing population instead of stealing that money for his own family and sending it abroad to his mafioso buddies…Gimme a break

    • Observing your following statement:

      “rather than showing how Chavismo has caused this horrible blight, the article could talk about how Chavismo has allowed people to convert a horrible blight into a bearable campsite while they get their lives together.”

      I have several points to make….

      With that kind of logic we convince quite a few people of the “good intentions” of Chavez, instead of looking at the reality which you might not capture with your limited knowledge of barrio living in Venezuela.If Chavez had wanted to really help, he would have kept the building for the jobs and relocated these people to safer and , healthier areas in the interior.

    • Ok, fair enough, I could agree that Wilson may have cut some corners. But I would worry about falling into the trap of seeing occupied buildings as utopian self-governing solutions to Venezuela’s housing crisis. I spent a lot of time in squatter settlements in one of the early waves of invasions in the Chavez government and I by and large agree that most of the people there were salt-of-the earth types who were just trying to make it. But there is plenty of gangbanging that goes on. It’s business. There’s money behind it, there’s blackmailing of property owners, there are squatter barons that shake people down or charge them to get into buildings. Diogenes Lopez was a big name back then in the takeover of a building near Plaza Venezuela, he got kicked out of the April 11 victims’ association for faking a bullet wound during the coup. His cohorts openly described their battles with invasion queen Comandante Manuit, who later went to jail when her takeovers of apartments started to make even Chavez nervous. She got off better than Diogenes, who got killed, quite likely by her people. I talked to one owner of a property in La Candelaria who was told the squatters would leave the place and leave them alone in exchange for $20,000 per family. Yes, the squatters themselves were almost all nice to me, but there’s nasty stuff going on in the background. I’ve never been to Torre David, and don’t know how it compares to these places. But I’m not sure I’d call Wilson out for describing it as a symptom of Venezuela’s housing crisis.

      • Firepigette, Jimmy: It is a symptom, and I’m sure there is weirdness going on in that building. I was mostly set off by the line about it being a hideout for thugs, which to me implied that the solution would be to evict the residents.

        The problem here isn’t the community of people in the building, it’s that the government has fallen down on the job. You know that Fogade was ready to sell in about 2005. They had a buyer set up. If I remember right, they had already signed the first sales contracts when the national government canceled the auction because someone in Caracas had some idea of what to do with the site. When the invasion happened, one source told me that (now ex-)Mayor Juan Barreto bused people to the site to take part in the invasion. The whole situation is utterly dysfunctional.

        I by no means meant to justify it; my point was just that having squatters there isn’t necessarily worse than the obvious alternative — an abandoned building. To get it from here to anything functional is the kind of project that would require healthy relationships between government bodies and leaders who actually cared to make the city work. I think that simply kicking everyone out right now would make the problem worse, not better.

  5. Every time I see Chávez boast about how the houses his government hands out are gorgeous, “not like the crappy shacks they made in the fourth republic”, I hit a wall.

    It’s like the United Nations Food Program arriving at a refugee camp on the Somali border and saying “we have this exquisite five course tasting menu, not like the crappy gruel the old UN gave out”…then only feeding half the camp.

    • Half? What do you mean, HALF? More like only feeding the single-digit percentage that happened to be wearing the right color shirts that day.

  6. If you do, where will they go?

    ¿Cómo es la verga? What do you mean “where will they go”?

    Why to the hundreds of thousands of brand new, fully functional housing units el comandante presidente ordered Ministro Molina to expropriate build of course!

  7. So what’s wrong with consolidating what’s in the building and turning it into social housing? I’m almost certain that architecturally and structurally speaking, it can be done. The problem is that nobody wants to face the mafias inside.

    • Carolina,

      It’s the same problem as with the expropriation of Sambil. Torre David was built to be an office building, not residences. It doesn’t have the infrastructure to support residential use.

      • Roy – turning an enclosed mall into housing is very different that turning offices into apartments. The proof is right there: they did it empirically by themselves! The thing is to think outside the box.

        Now, what kind of different infrastructure you are talking about?

        Structure, is the same concrete structure.
        Windows? Replace the existing exterior curtain walls with block walls with opening windows.
        Plumbing? usually in office buildings the bathrooms are stacked in groups, but there are usually several vertical chases. Condemn the actual plumbing (if any), hang underneath the celing slab the new required “arañas”, grouping them close to the vertical chases. Office buildings usually have a higher ceilings than traditional residential construction so dropping it with a suspended ceiling should not be a problem.
        Electrical? Same thing.
        Mechanical venting? No need for air conditioning in apartments so it can be condemned, just letting the mechanical venting for interior hallways and stairs.
        Elevators? Assuming that for the size of this tower they probable have 8 to 10 chases? Dedicate two per group of floors to not over work them.

        Another thing that could be done is two combine two construction systems. Exterior partitioning and demising walls could be built with clay or concrete blocks, and the interior partitioning could be drywall. Yes, the American way inside each unit, that, BTW, don’t have to have more than 3 bedrooms and one bathroom to be a decent home.

        A good way to make it more interesting is to make it an open contest. Let the architects participate. Or make it a cojoint project with architecture students in their last year, a thesis perhaps?

        • Carolina,

          You must have some engineering or architectural knowledge from your use of the vocabulary. And, you are right about what COULD be done. But will it be done that way? Right now, I doubt that any of the life/safety systems are in operation. And, without controls, I would worry about overloading the floors with masonry partitions. The structure was probably designed for drywall office partitions.

          The real question is whether it is cost effective to refit a structure designed for office space to residential space. I tend to doubt it. Based on your comment, you are talking about refitting everything except for the structure, and that is only about 25-35 percent of the cost of the building. The facade alone represents 15-20 percent. At some point, you begin to “throw good money after bad”. Usually, the only reason to remodel for revised usage is when you are preserving historical buildings and ambiance. Otherwise, it is more economical to demolish and build new.

          • It’s been done quite a bit, depending on the area. Here in Chicago, some of the very old downtown office towers have been converted to residences. For instance, the Fisher Building at Van Buren and Dearborn (20 stories, built 1896, elegant terra cotta exterior). In the 1900s, it slipped downscale, hosting a lot of older professionals and small-business agencies in classic glass-door offices (think film noir private detective office). It was converted during the downtown revival of 1990-2005. I’m told that many of the apartments retained the old glass doors with old business names on them.

            As to Torre David – apparently it has water and power. Are these paid for, or just leeched off the public utlilties?

            One point. The Venezuelan state shouild not build any housing. It should stop seizing land and other resources (i.e. cement and building material suppliers), provide secure land titles, and let private enterprise build housing. Distributing the oil revenue would give the people resources to buy the housing. The state should be building new infrastructure – streets, roads, highways, and bridges. (My impression is that this has been completely neglected by Chavez, and that there is an enormous amount needed just to get back to reasonable functionality.)

          • Roy – You are right, I’m an architect. Half of my professional life was in Venezuela and the other half in Canada. That is why I talk about combining the two construction systems. Drywall for interior partitioning could alleviate the weight you talk about, but i would not recommend it for demising walls in such an insecure country.

            In any case, my point is that it can be done, even with the help of the community that already lives there.

            More than the actual physical and constructive issue, my biggest concern would be how to tackle a consolidation/renovation/construction project socially. It has to be discussed and negotiated with the actual inhabitants, the “community” of the tower.

            For example, what to do with the upper floors? Higher floors shouldn’t have a lot of traffic to avoid over usage of the elevators. Could it be community services, like a church? Some government offices? I am not sure.

            I do agree with you that the Sambil is a whole different issue. The mall was 98% ready when it was expropriated, so to turning it into housing would be extremely expensive. In fact, the refugees were located in the parkade, since it’s open and with ventilation. The mall is enclosed with no windows, no suitable for housing.

        • “A good way to make it more interesting is to make it an open contest. Let the architects participate. Or make it a cojoint project with architecture students in their last year, a thesis perhaps?”

          That’s an excellent idea, Carolina.

  8. Where do you get the idea this proposal is welfare enhancing? You just want people to move out so that Venezuela resembles Germany??? Sorry, but you make a very weak case.

    • To whom are you talking?
      Germany? It’s not Germany. There are few countries so centralized
      as Venezuela, even in Latin America. Chile perhaps…but then
      Chile has other advantages.

      There won’t ever be any sustainable development
      if everybody is living in Caracas trying to eke out a living from cutting
      hair to each other or being a functionary.
      You simply can’t create enough jobs in one place if nothing else is producing
      anything at all. You think you can let petrodollars provide for
      all the money that will create enough jobs for everyone to live in Caracas?
      Jobs in what?

      • I agree, creating jobs is a difficult enterprise in itself. But its feasability has nothing to do with forcing changes in the location people choose to live. Look at Brasilia, a complete failure in achieving anything it promised, but instead creating inmense welfare loses for the people who would rather be in Rio, and travel every weekend out and back in.

  9. What is missing in this discussion is that Caracas is overpopulated. Instead of finding ways to house all of the overpopulation in the capital, how about instituting policy that creates job growth in rural areas, so that migration to the large cities is reversed?

    • The only way to do that would be to move the capital city. There’s no chance of that ever happening.

    • Roy – where have you been since 1999? Chavez suggested this policy way back when and nothing has happened. People just are not going to move to work in the countryside. It has not worked in any other Latino country either so there is no chance that it will happen here. Most houses and apartments are bine built out side Caracas so that may help but as far as getting people to move…..foprget it.

      • The caudillo only suggested “creating cities in the development hubs”, he hasn’t thought anything, absolutely anything through…he goes from one pseudo-vision to the next. He didn’t think how to create jobs in those places firstly. I am talking about creating jobs. Then people move. He was thinking about letting some of his amigos build urbanizations in the middle of nowhere, then he moved to think about how to help people in New Orleans, how to be the new Liberator of Bolivia, how to offer mermelada de mango to Medvedev for weapons (instead, Russians went for petrodollars), etc.

      • Si tendria un Bolivar por todas las cosas que Chavez ha dicho y no hecho…

        He is truly “The Mouth that Roared”.

  10. Moving the whole Capital at once is absurd….the trend of moving government agencies has to be little by little while giving hiring power back to the States.Of course Chavez has no desire to do so this because what he wants is to maximize control over everything.

    • Why is it absurd? Brazil did it. Myanmar did it. Germany did it. It’s not convenient, and it’s not cheap, but as long as the PetroState is concentrated in Caracas, that is where the businesses and the people will remain.

      • With all due respect, it is absurd, Juan. Germany did it for historical reasons: that was the capital from the moment Germany became one nation until 1945. The intention was never to move people there but federal employees. It was not for moving people out of Bonn. You know Bonn, you know it’s more of a sleepy town and it always was.
        German regions were always very independent. But I don’t want to go further into Germany because people will think again I want to transform Venezuela into Germany.

        Even ultra-centralized France has some top-notch research centres in such isolated places as Grenoble! (Xerox, been there)

        It would be interesting to get some figure on that, but I wonder how migration worked from 1990 to 1998 (two years after decentralisation started).

      • You can add Canada and Australia to that list. And why not? Government is done electronically now (granted, in not so remote areas of venezuela they still produce birth and marriage certificates by long-hand,like some sort of medieval writ- that would have to stop). I’m not an economist but it strikes me that when you have high inflation and currency controls people are going to want to put their globs of ill-gotten bolivarian gains into bricks and mortar, driving up values. I’ve lived in Caracas and los llanos, and strikes me that property values are insane everywhere. Four walls in Barinas go at first world prices. Could there be some truth to the speculation explanation? In fact, the scenario Setty sets out- is it not plausible that pressure in the rental market from speculation is driving people to make this sort of perverse but totally understandable bet on what is basically a gigantic squat?

      • Sure, Imagine Aristobulo, Giordani and (Your Wildcard Choice here) coordinating and planning the move. They will al be dead before a single person moves.

  11. Most of the discussion is based in two false premises:
    1. Caracas is a big city
    2. Caracas is a dense city
    Well, the truth is Caracas is not a big city and it is not even a dense city. Wait for the census results but Caracas (defining it as the metro area compressing five municipalities) is below the 4 million mark. Compare it to Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, not to mention BsAs, Rio, Sao Paulo or DF.
    Most interestingly, formal Caracas is less dense than similar cities in size. Population density in the valley is about 6000 inhab/sq Km. (compared to 10000 in similar size cities). It is only in the hills where population densities (in spite of informal constructions) is closer to 10000 inhab/sq Km.
    So, why do we want to “decongest” Caracas? Does it make sense to take people out? Why incur in welfare loses moving people away from where they want to live? Do we really want to resign to the benefits of having large urban centers?
    I suggest you all a reading by Harvard economist’s Glaeser: The Triumph of the City. Might change your views some, maybe all we want is a denser, more organized Caracas.
    There are no “best practices” when it comes to spatial economics. No reason why Venezuela should follow Germany’s rule of small cities. Why not France or UK example, both with a single megacity? Urban developments depends on idiosincratic conditions. So, I encourage you to abandon the small city fetish and widen your thinking on this topic.

    • Rei,
      France is the most centralized nation in Western Europe (apart form Netherlands, but Netherlands is way too small to count for that). Still,
      1) Caracas is in a valley in sub-tropical to tropical area. This presents special pollution issues. Neither Paris nor London have such problem.
      I would like to see what is the surface of Libertador where the slope is less than 45°.

      2) The area between Western Valencia and Eastern Valles del Tuy was by far the best for cultivation of a lot of things (can you believe we were even growing wheat in those areas earlier?), now it’s all cement. We don’t really have so many green areas with the climate of Caracas. That is not the case for France.

      The best schools in Britain or France are NOT necessarily in the capital. A lot of national institutions in Britain and France are located in secondary cities, from Aberdeen to Kent.

      It is not about Germany. It’s the same with the US. Do you know where is the software industry concentrated in the US? Silicon Valley. Do you know where many of the research centres are located? They are all over the place.

      It makes all sense to develop the interior. I don’t want to move people firstly. I want our next government creates conditions for people to move to Calabozo and become an electronic engineer there, move to Ciudad Bolívar (hopefully Angostura in the future) and become a biologist or stay in Sabaneta and become a baseball teacher.

    • Caracas might not be dense, but it feels dense – because both the housing market and the transport system are FUBAR.

      Invest in proper transport infrastructure and housing and you can have a great urban experience at multiples of Caracas’s density – hello HongKong!

      • Add that Caracas doesn’t have the recommended percentage for roads. I have said this before, if i recall correctly Caracas only has about 8% of its area in roads, and the rule of thumb calls for a 12~15% ? I’m not sure but it’s something like that.

        • You are exactly correct, though I seem to recall a recommended figure of 18% for all public right of ways including parks, plazas, etc. I also seem to recall that Paris has 25% of its urban space in public right of way. I suspect that Moscow has even more. There, you need to pack a lunch to just cross the street.

          I read about this when I was living in Bangkok, which is another city with the same problem… only 8% of space dedicated to roads… major disaster!

        • YES! I am always telling people that the problem in Caracas isn’t a lack of green space, it’s a lack of streets. And with the massive centralized power of the Chavez administration, one of the great missed opportunities has been to not do some urban reorganization — condemning some buildings and vacant lots to put in streets. Instead, the plan is now to make La Carlota into a park and double-deck all the freeways. It’s urban planning by 10th graders.

          • Another option would be more roads for upgraded “metrobuses” which will progressively replace the other buses, plus a more comprehensive underground system…something like in Amsterdam or Zürich rapid system.

            But again: isn’t it easier to start paying teachers in Barinas, Guárico, Cojedes and Monagas a 20% bonus over those in Caracas for teaching there? Perhaps not…those in Caracas would want then a 40% for teaching en la capitar.

  12. Not a single new road, highway or interchange has been built in Caracas since 1998 (just to use that key year!), I belive it dates way back, my last recolection being the new distribuidor de la Plaza de Prados del Este. Sorry guys I am from el ESTE, only know los “arrabales del este”, as a friend from propatria once reffered to me, but assume the same goes for the rest of greater Caracas.

    In contrast, in the 5 years or so I have lived in Calgary, population one million, there have been no fewer than two ring roads (4 to 5 lanes on each direction of travel) tens of highways, over 30 pass/interchanges for said highways, (hospitals, high schools, elementary schools, etc.) built.

    Only when one has a perspective to see how things should/could be done in a functioning society, one understands the extend of the crazy rabit hole Venezuela has turned into…

    This conversation, went form legal rights for property and real estate, to discussion of the technical merit of turnig this scander into habitable solutions… WTF why are we palying the game?… lets stick to the basics and the core and we will be better off.

    esta Invasion debe ser revertida mediante la fuerza de la ley, y los invasores deben ser retirados de la estructura. No debe ser trabajo del estado buscarle un reubicacion a estos invasores. Los duenos del edificio deben decidir si lo demolen o lo reabilitan, pero no puede seguir estando en situacion de inhabitabilidad. El municipio debe pechar al propietario una penalidad por esto…..largo etc…..

    Locos estamos todos en Venezuela!!! really.

    Feliz 2012

    • LuisF – the building is owned by the government. It was expropriated in 1994.

      I guess they could decide if they turn it into more public offices or into social housing. I would do the second if it was up to me. Consolidate what’s in there and turn it around.

      BTW – you forgot the second line of the LRT in Calgary. All that done in a period of recession.

  13. I still dont get the hang up about theft here. This people moved in there, the same way that people moved into the cerros surrounding Caracas or the empty land around quebradas: They were there, nobody stopped them. So, is the Government not supposed to solve the problem out of some purist concept like these people just occupied this Government owned building? If we apply the same concept to all barrios, then we will never solve the problem anyway, it is all theft.

    The Government inherited this building 17 years ago, either the Government solves the problem or Torre de David will become just another barrio of Caracas, a vertical one, but a barrio. Have a contest among urbanism students across the country for their undergraduate and graduate thesis, take the best ten ideas, integrate them and finance them. Give these “occupants” their “land” but do it in an organized fashion, give them title, put in elevators, water, sewage and make it work.

    Do you think the Chinese asked the people in the slums of Shangai when they were tore down if they had title? Or the 3 million people in the low lying areas of the Yangtze river when the Three Gorge dam was built?

    I doubt it. They built new housing and gave it to them.

    Problem solved, Next!!!

    • Meh. Another petrostate proposal perpetuating the problem… If you want decentralization of power you must decentralize the money: eliminate the petrostate mentality; distribute the cash.

      • Sorry, certain problems need to be solved by the Government, the health and security problems of Torre de David, have to be solved by Government.

        • True, but that’s not to what your comment was referring. Your previous comment proposed solutions that required continued use of the illegal, regressive spenditures from oil money. What’s worse is that most of those people would leave that building on their own if they had daily unconditional cash transfers, and would move to a place where those transfers would go a much longer way than in Caracas. That building should not belong to the government, and if it is not in zona residencial, then it should not become adapted for residencies.

          Sorry but there is no way around it: your solutions is patchwork on top of petrostate mentality thinking that if only you were deciding what to do with the money, things would work; nothing new there.

          • Extorres – let say that your hypothesis could work (which I doubt because a lot of people are not only money-driven), what would you do with the building? What would you do with the people that won’t leave for work reasons or family reasons?

            Another comment regarding “…and if it is not in zona residencial, then it should not become adapted for residencies.”
            What do you understand by “residential area” in a city like Caracas? Keep in mind that Caracas is a very eclectic city with mixed uses everywhere.
            The north american concept of cities (ciudad alfiletero) cannot be applied to it. Also, the most successful cities from the urban point of view are those with mixed usages in a low scale (Paris, for example), where there are offices, residences and commercial uses mixed up in the same area. That makes the use of the cars less important.

            • Munich:

              Another thing: squares only accessible for bikes AND public transit systems like in Zürich (Switzerland) allow for something you hardly see in the Americas: the development of a common culture, of places where people meet, take a coffee in the open. Of course, the issue would be how to avoid every place to become a place for illegal street vendors. The solution, I think, is to initially force everyone who tries to settle in a new place to pay all kind of taxes and registries.

              Last but not least: we need to break the transportation mafias. We need a lot of creativity to find solutions for that;

            • Carolina,

              I don’t think we’re on the same page regarding what my “hypothesis” is. Thinking that it’s merely that cash distribution would get all the people in that building to move out is an unjust simplification. My proposal for cash distribution goes hand in hand with many other policies for it to work properly in achieving to the fullest all the social benefits it can produce. Allow me, then, a step back:

              20billion *income tax* money is money of which the richest 1% of the population would have pitched in a larger portion than the 1% from any lower income bracket, the poorest pitching in 0%. The same 20billion *oil* money represents an equal portion from each citizen, that is, the richest 1% of the population pitches in the same portion as each 1% of the population of any lower income bracket, even the poorest!

              Now, stepping forward again, my hypothesis is about pointing out that to solve Venezuela’s problems we must start by getting the idea out of our heads that the oil money is available to us for spending. It’s illegal. It’s regressive. So the first thing is to give it to its rightful owners. After that is done, you can look at what problems are left and start applying *taxation* money towards fixing them.

              Going back to the building case under discussion, first give the cash distribution, then see how many people are left in the building, and the reasons for their not leaving and deal with them the way any properly run democracy would in respecting human rights, property rights, zoning laws, building codes, fire codes, etc.., staying within a budget that is limited by *taxation*. This immediately implies that the government should not be owning the building to begin with.

              As to what I understand by “residential area”, I’m refering different zones having different capacities installed and codes defined regarding utilities needs, traffic flow and access, etc.. Caracas’s eclecticness is no excuse for ignoring best practices in deciding habitabilidad, the same way a Fire Chief should not adjust the maximum capacity values of a space just because there is a sudden need for a higher capacity; either the space meets the criteria for a certain number of people or it doesn’t.

              But don’t get distracted by any other point: the crux of the matter is that spending of oil money on anything, even on food stamps, is regressive spending. Any proposal counting on oil money to solve any problem simple perpetuates the problem at the root of all problems: that we keep counting on the oil money as government spending money. Cash distribution kills the petrostate model and mentality.

          • Extorres – I think you are right, we are not on the same page, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt.
            Hey, I’ve read several times your arguments about cash distribution. I even LIVED one with some sort of prosperity check that was given to every resident of this province and that didn’t make a difference. I call it an hypothesis simple because it’s not proven yet.
            I’m trying to focus in this particular case, the Torre de David. You are talking about a much greater picture which is poverty in Venezuela, the dismantling of a petrostate, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc…I’m talking about fixing up a building, involving both, government and community.
            You say that the building should not belong to the estate. If you find somebody interested in buying this urban corpse, let me know. Include in the sales the helicoide, please.
            I’m talking about this particular issue as a pilot project of rehabilitation, to test it out with a team of professionals, architects and engineers, and also sociologists and psychologist and social workers, to amend it, correct the mistakes and move on onto slums.
            Reading one of the articles, a woman was saying that she couldn’t find a job, that she heard that moving to Maracaibo would be better, and then she said something like “but our family is not there, our friends are not there, we don’t know anybody there..”, something like that. That is what I was talking regarding that not everybody is money driven and that might be in most cases, many other reasons for people not to move out of where they are.

            • Carolina,

              I support all the plans you have for the building and the people within it, if you point to the money coming out of the taxation coffers, progressive sources.

              I didn’t quite catch if you agreed that the oil revenue spending is regressive. To me, any proposal involving oil money shares the theme of Lord or the Rings regarding most everyone thinking that if the Ring is in *their* hands then things would be different; they would surely know how to wield its power without succumbing to its evil. People’s reaction to suggestions of distributing the oil revenues remind me of “my precious, my precious”. Proposals that do not move away from that mentality merely perpetuate the problem at the root of it all: the petrostate.

              As to the building, it’s just emblemic. Making fixing it or not the question, falls very short in the attempt to bring the nation back to health. It’s about policy. Given Venezuela’s situation, spending taxation money on it, seems to me mispending of a limited budget; spending oil money on it, a greater crime.

    • Agreed. But my beef with this solution is that perpetuates the precedent, and reinforces the incentives that we have inherited since the fifties when everything started to collapse, and the populist solution was to bakroll parche after parche. Porque le voy a construir in apartamento con todos los servicios a un invasor. That is the question I woud ask my self.
      If bomberos and ohter sAfety institutions worked, they would have the building vacated for heatlh and safety rasons alone.

      The issues Miguel I know are compunded. My reductionist thinking is just an excersise in reason. I know pragmatic, compromises are required, and some papa estado sweets must be included with every solution. I do not like it though, for I think it is waht borught us here and what keeps us from turning around back to waht we could have been!

      As MCM says we need to do things differently! . really!

      • Yeah, but what would you do: Blow up the tower? You have to get rid of the health and security problem. You have an asset that cost less than building housing, do it. Government leads is in solving problems, if you dont attack the problems wherever they may be and with the most practical solution, in 100 years you will still be debating what Government should do.

        Is this problem going to be solved if you distribute money? No. But the more this problem lingers, the more State you are going to need.

        The state regulates and takes care of some problems. If what is needed to get rid of the health and security problem is to spend some money to save a Government asset is finance that apartments be built, I really think it should be done. It is the cheapest solution and you do some good in the end. As I said, is the solution to the barrios to do nothing? Then the country will never change.

        • I see this particular example – Torre de David – as a great opportunity to put in practice all the theories about slum’s consolidation. It is a contained slum after all!
          It already functions as a co-op (that’s fantastic!), there are signs of an organized community (that’s also great). They just need the space conditioned for safety and basic services.
          From the legal point of view: the unit wouldn’t belong to the occupant, and they have to qualify somehow (through RIF) that they meet the economical requirements. The units can’t be sold nor rented nor inherited. The government could subsidized expensive maintenance items like elevators, so the general expenses can be low and affordable.
          If this works, the model can be applied to small slums, Santa Cruz or Los Erasmos, and then move to the bigger ones, like Petare.

          • Carolina:

            The creation of an insurmountable problem in Venezuela:

            “The government could subsidized expensive maintenance items like elevators, so the general expenses can be low and affordable.”

            Governments in Venezuela are notorious for not fulfilling duties.Better for the poor to live in simple dwellings that need little upkeep

            • FP – I hear you but I also think it’s a very pessimistic way of looking at things! Isn’t the idea of all these discussions to move forward for the better?
              Is like the teacher that prefers to sit in the back corner a his with disabilities because she thinks he might be a lost case.

        • moctavio,

          “Is this problem going to be solved if you distribute money? No.”

          I disagree, and have justified with arguments. I haven’t seen yours regarding how you know so confidently that people having guaranteed cash above the poverty line would not tend to move to places where their money would go a longer way, or provide themselves with improved living conditions.

          • No matter how much money you distribute, the neighbors in Torre de David will never be able to come up with the money to put in elevators or water or sewage, period, The numbers are beyond what they can manage with five years of cahs distribution and you can bet they will not spend it on it, they will build more rejas, more walls and the security and health problems will remain.

            • In the same order of ideas, extorres, you haven’t responded to Miguel’s question aboutwhat would you do with the building?

            • moctavio, why do you think people with a guaranteed 5 times poverty line income for life would stick around?

              Carolina, I think I have replied to the building question. Here goes more specifically: If I represent government, I would suggest getting sell it, even at a loss, unless city planning recommends a different use for the location. Government should simply not own it. If I owned it as a private owner, I would crunch numbers for all the alternatives so far suggested and countless more, then do whatever churned out the best results. The numbers, of course, should include complying with all current laws, regulations and codes, paying taxes, but also expecting the government to remove squatters from the building. Naturally, I wouldn’t feel so bad regarding the relocation of the squatters if I knew none of them would ever have incomes below 5 times the poverty line.

              By the way, what guarantees do you offer that no oil money is the basis for costing any fixups? Or are you recommending regressive spending for this fixup?

            • Extorres – a couple of things:

              “…If I represent government, I would suggest getting sell it, even at a loss..”.

              Sure, but for that, there has to be a buyer, the people have to be out of it first, and with the actual conditions of the building, it is for sure that it would be a loss. I seriously doubt that anybody would be interested in spending money in something that may have to be teared down. There might be some interest in the value of the land than anything else, but at the end such value would be less than the cost of purchasing the building and demolishing it, so it’s not worth it for investors.

              “…By the way, what guarantees do you offer that no oil money is the basis for costing any fixups? Or are you recommending regressive spending for this fixup?…”

              Honestly extorres, I think you have an obsession with the matter. I personally admit it is absolutely out of my area of expertise where the money will come from. I’m just a simple architect with a lot of interest in social matters and that’s it. Normally architects are hired to design, control construction, budgets and details, but we don’t question where the money of our clients comes from.

              So why do you ask me what guarantees do I offer? If the money would be mine, I would give you guaranttes, otherwise, the guarantees are from whoever is paying.

              This project, as many other social projects, could come from public funds (whichever or wherever), private funds, charities (like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona), a combination of all the above!

            • Carolina,

              The key I emphasize is that the government has to start by accepting that it’s not its role to own buildings, therefore not it’s role to *directly* fix the ones it owns, but rather to get the buildings it owns into the hands of those that are dedicated to and expert at owning buildings. So, by “even at a loss”, I include that the government even provide incentives and benefits to investors to make it worth their while. Your reply is correct, the building would be worth more if emptied and fixed up, and I support that, but I do not support that it should be the government doing it. Do you think, A) that should be the government’s role, and B) that the government would even do it properly and more efficiently than non government entities?

              I understand your position regarding the source of the money as an architect. I’ll avoid, then, the accounting angle. I would ask you, instead, if you as a voter would support a new tax law that would take an equal amount from every citizen, regardless of their income bracket? And not just that, the new tax law would take away so much from every citizen that the total amount collected through this new tax law would be greater than the total amount collected from all other taxes? I don’t go looking into the source of monies, either. My “obsession” is that I realized that the petrostate model in Venezuela is tantamount to such a tax law, and that it should make us all sick to our stomachs that people are being undernourished and dying for need of that very money while we continue proposing, decade after decade, supposed novel ways of getting the value of that money right back to those very people in social services. Instead, it keeps getting malinvested, mismanaged, and misappropriated.

              I really doubt that you would accept a contract to fix the building if you were aware that the money came from blood diamonds, for example. The irony is that you seem willing to accept money that was grafted from the very people you claim to want to help. What’s worse is that the number of people that would be helped by this money is fewer than the number of people in need from which it was taken, illegaly.

              So, no, I have to insist, the government should not touch the building. It should never have touched it, and now that it has it, it should get rid of its conflict of interest and extralimitation of roles, ASAP, especially since its a sinkhole for the money that is mostly provided by the poor via oil revenues. It’s unforgiveable that we who are not poor are being so casual about spending what is truly blood money, too.

  14. Carolina BTW, why dont you ask our hosts to send me an email with your contact info so that we can go for a negrito or con leche at artigianno’s sometime. or timmies! noooo.

  15. On a side and personal note, I just noticed that I got a thumb down at the same time in every single comment I have made in this thread, even those supporting Miguel’s ideas (and he didn’t, LOL), personal ones like Tim Horton’s, optimistic ones, pesimistic ones…
    I invite the person who did it to come forward and discuss openly why, for example, gave to the link to the other posting about the Tower of David a thumb down?

    • Carolina,
      I don’t know how those thumbs work. If it’s any consolation, some people have complained of the same thing. Just ignore it.

      • I’m not complaining, I’m just noticing that coincidentally I got them in almost all of my comments including that where I correct a spelling mistake and I thought it was funny. In fact, I just gave myself a thumb down for my public spaz attack. LOL.
        It’s all good.

  16. el que se pica es pq aji….
    jajaja.

    Miguel, I agree with you, action is better than inaction. Bout I still confes it blows my mind why we need to be trying to solve the issue of what to do with this invasores in the best posible way,m when we shoud be discussing not to have invasores at all…

    Sorry its me. Extraterrestre.

    • Luis, I understand where you are coming from, my question remains: What do you do about barrios? And at the en of the day, Torre David is just another very peculiar barrio. Not extraterrestre, I consider myself a libertarian, but I think in order for those ideas to work, you have to splve certain problems first. Start with cultural problems, in the East of Caracas, people with money don’t pitch in to fix elevators in hundred thousand dollar apartment buildings, do you really think that giving someone a couple of thousand Bs. a month will solve things?

      Venezuela has very tough problems. I think the Government really has to come in and provide education and catch up on housing and health, if not we are doomed. Maybe we are, but if we can’t use the oil windfall to make the playing field more level, I really dont know what to spend it on.

      As to the “manitos”, really weird, someone does not like Carolina…and it ain’t me.

      • “but if we can’t use the oil windfall to make the playing field more level, I really dont know what to spend it on.” Lord of the Rings, revisted.

        • I wonder, moctavio, if you agree that someday we need to get out of the petrostate model, when would you consider it a better opportunity, during an oil windfall, or a dry spell?

          Also, do you realize that an oil windfall implies the most regression, given that the poor will be pitching in the greater portion of the money spent, and windfalls imply that it’s a greater total?

          We need to get the government to let go of the oil money; we don’t have a Gollum to bite the Ring off of Frodo’s hand in this case. We need to let it go. Now is the time.

          • Petrostate models are wasteful, I am not arguing for that. I dont see why you dislike so much placing ordr in disorder, taht is all I am arguing about.

            I repeat the question that nobody seems to want to answer: What would you do with the barrios of Venezuela (including Torre de David)? You think Government should do nothing about them? Do you really believe that without some planning and with just the Government distributing money these problems will go away?

            Dream on!

            • Consolidate them, organize them socially as communities.
              There are many studies and projects and project pilots around the world, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just have to adapt it to each case.

            • moctavio, we agree, petrostates are wasteful, but do you think getting rid of the petrostate is best done during an oil windfall or an oil dry spell? And, do you agree that spending money from oil revenues is regressive inasmuch as it is tantamount to an equal tax to all citizens regardelss of income?

              As to what I think the government should do with the barrios, no, I do not think the government should do nothing, and, as I’ve said before, I believe in city planning very much. So I would, first, get people’s income above the poverty line, this is achieved fivefold with cash distribution at today’s oil prices. This alone would alleviate some of the problem for many people, knowing that this income is guaranteed for life, would leave if they have family elsewhere where the money would go a longer way. Then I would develop as many residential zones as the new population numbers indicate as necessary as quickly as possible for housing, then provide as much market incentive as possible to attract investors and enable builders to construct housing as quickly as possible. That people would now have income fivefold above poverty line would be incentive enough for many.

              So, no, not dreaming — envisioning. What you propose is regressive, because no matter for how many people you construct housing, it’s via putting many more people in the poveryt situation to begin with by taking their money away, ilegally, to boot.

  17. One theme in this discussion is that a few commenters, led by Extorres, seem to want to have their policies arise from principles, including property rights. Others, including Miguel and Carolina (and me) are saying, what can be done about this, most easily, most cheaply, to make the most people happy?

    In the end, the two aren’t necessarily in conflict. As Carolina said, the building wasn’t private property when it was squatted — it was state property. States exist by and for the citizens, right? And now that the people living there have installed water pumps, cisterns on the 16th and 26th floors (speaking of structural concerns…), safety walls, and other improvements, they have clearly combined their labor with the land — one classic definition of property. This isn’t Havana or Jerusalem (or even parts of Canada, Chile, the Llanos, etc), where the current residents have occupied land where a former owner has never given up his or her claim. That’s a more complicated situation, where property rights, or “rewarding theft,” are serious issues. In this case, they seem to me like non-issues.

    What I dislike in this situation is that some people would be rewarded with state resources based on their willingness to endanger their children (living on floor 25 of a tower without safety railings) rather than based on an orderly queue that is rationally organized by human needs. But, queues and Venezuela maybe don’t belong in the same sentence.

    • I wonder under what circumstances they ended up in there in first place. I didn’t know the first group was bused there by Barreto. Maybe they were promised something?
      One step further, if that would have been the case, could he be prosecuted for the death of the girl that fell to her death..?

      • Carolina (I can not answer above, where you answered me): Exactly! Government has to plan, promote and help people, is not solving their problem but optimizing the use of resources, which is all economics says it is. Torre de David is an asset, put in elevators, sewage, the works, charge them for a mortgage, but do something!!!

        • By this logic, the government should also be fxing up the areperas bolivarianas, hotels, supermarkets, farms, and even the jewelry stores it expropiated. No, it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t have gone into those businesses in the first place, and it shouldn’t be having anyone on payroll to run them. It should let go, and focus on the things that are its roles.

          Did I forget to mention that in the case of Torre de David, as with all those other assets the government should not own, just promising the first step of cash distribution wins more votes than any promises we can make about fixing them up. And I can’t stress enough that killing the petrostate is what will truly get at the biggest and most reaching root of all problems in Venezuela, let’s call it the Lord of the Oil Ring mentality.

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