Debunking Establishment BS about Torre David

Published at 18:32 on 23 July 2014

What’s Torre David, you ask? It’s one of the tallest buildings in Caracas, Venezuela, still incomplete despite construction commencing in 1990. In recent years it’s been occupied by squatters who have at least been putting the structure to some meaningful use for the first time in its life.

The establishment BS is that it somehow represents “the failure of the late Hugo Chávez’s experiment in socialism”. That, despite the boondoggle being the result of completely capitalist action (it was capitalists that decided to start building it, and then failed to complete it). That, despite construction grinding to a halt in 1994 and Chávez not being elected until 1999.

Of course, the putting of the structure to meaningful use wasn’t the result of Chávez’s state socialism, either: it was grassroots action. The Chávez government at least did that effort the favor of doing nothing and letting it happen (as opposed to the more traditional governmental role of repression).

Yes, it was a dangerous place to live. And yes, there should have been better housing alternatives. No arguments there. But trying to blame a boondoggle that came to full fruition five years before Chávez was elected on Chávez is more than a little dishonest.

It’s all ending this month, because the Venezuelan government has cut a deal with Chinese state capitalism to complete the building. And yes, skepticism about the State’s promise to adequately house the displaced is completely justified.

But it should be possible to express skepticism about the Venezuelan government (something I’ve done here many times, by the way) without blaming it for boondoggles which happened well before the Bolivarian movement even came to power.

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