Squatting, South American style…

Skyline of Caracas, and the tower of david

Caracas skyline, with 'el torre de david' on the right

Our media keeps trotting out the same old stories about squatters being unwashed and ungrateful cuckoos in the nest of the ordinary homeowner.

But this video from the New York Times shows the true face of squatting: people who have been let down – and, like the buildings they occupy, left to rot – by their government.

People taking matters into their own hands, finding their own solutions. These solutions impact negatively on no-one and, in fact, mop up some of the waste left behind by bureaucracy.

Zuma Bolivar, a Caracas city planner, tells us that the Tower of David is the perfect example of anarchy.

City planners espousing anarchy? Something must being going wrong.

Jose Hernandez lives on the 7th floor. He works at a state owned bank, but couldn’t qualify for a loan himself; wearing his work uniform of shirt and tie, he tells us:

“I started looking for a house, but the rents were very high, and I had no money to pay what they were asking. I felt frustrated because I had a family and whenever I went to ask for credit, no-one would grant it.”

With 256,000 homes left empty for over six months in the UK and homelessness up by 17% on 2011, it’s not such a huge leap to draw comparisons between Caracas and our own capital…