Skyscraper slum run by ex-con who cut up rivals and threw them off roof

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    A former luxury hotel is now the world's largest slum and was once ruled over by a feared ex-con hardman who would yeet his enemies off the roof.

    The 45-storey apartment block, known as the so-called "Tower of David", is home to thousands of inhabitants who have repurposed the former five-star hotel in Venezuela's capital Caracas into what is believed to be the world's tallest slum. What was set to be the jewel in the crown of a brand-new financial district is now an incomplete, abandoned project from 1994 now inhabited by thousands of locals and families.

    Squatters seized the site in 2007, over a decade after developer David Brillembourg died and the project was abandoned, with the site repurposed as a safe haven from the turf wars and violence outside.

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    The first 28 floors of the abandoned project were completely habitable for those hoping to squat there, but the further up the tower squatters went, the more trouble they ran into.

    Dangerous open spaces were bricked up and basic plumbing, electrical and water systems were also fitted for those living in the Tower of David. Floor delegates help to keep the communal corridors tidy, with rules and rotas apparently adhered to by those living in the vertical slum.

    But in its darker days, the tower was run by a bloke known as El Nino – a born-again Christian who was known to throw his rivals from the roof of the tower. Not much is known about El Nino, or what happened to him, but the community living in the tower were the targets of an attempted police and army eviction in 2014.

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    But stubborn the squatters were, they refused to leave and now boast a salon, dentists and even several shops. One resident, Thais Ruiz, 36, said last year: "There is far more order and far less crime in here than out there.

    “Once we found a dead body on our doorstep. Now look, we can leave the door wide open.”

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    Another local, speaking to Works That Work, claimed the place was destroyed when she moved in…but no longer. She said: " ‘When I got here, everything was destroyed, the roof, the walls, the stairs.

    "It was full of rubble and trash, and we cleaned the entire building, which was a great sacrifice. That is why I feel so empowered over this space, because of everything we did to recover it."

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    A collection pot is sent round, with inhabitants expected to pay £28 a month to stay inside of the dilapidated building. That "condominium" fee provides 24-hour security for those living inside the Tower of David, which residents appear to appreciate when the alternative is the crime and corruption outside.

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    Caracas residents do not view the tower with positivity though, as many on the outside seeing the tower block as a den of criminals, with police raids in search of kidnap victims inside the slum frequent. Opposition from local politicians remains, but the Tower of David appears to be staying put…for now.

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