Margarita's "Torre de David"

The Corocoro building in Porlamar, the largest city on Margarita Island.

The “Torre de David” highrise in Caracas got a lot of attention recently thanks in part to John Lee Anderson’s great article in the New Yorker, to the point that its residents have suspended all outside visits.

But it’s not the only vertical squat in Venezuela. There are unfinished buildings in other cities where squatters have settled in and created something close to a community.

In Margarita Island, there’s Corocoro, an unfinished apartment block which was under the control of FOGADE (the State’s entity in charge of taking over assets from failed banks) until June 2009 when it was invaded. Right now, there are a thousand people living there.

Almost four years on, living conditions are extreme. Former air conditioning ducts are used as an impromptu sewer system (a veritable wellspring of disease) while an improvised series of hoses bring water to the thirteen floors. Local thugs have also taken refuge in the former hotel.

But the residents of Corocoro could be out soon, as Nueva Esparta state’s newly elected Governor Carlos Mata Figueroa wants to relocate them into new houses and clear out the building in six months.

Easier said than done, as new groups of squatters have taken other hotels in the area with the alleged “support” of Mata Figueroa himself.