Boris Muñoz has spent most of his journalistic career in Venezuela, but has lived in the U.S. both while pursuing a PhD at Rutgers and since his year as a Nieman Fellow in 2009-2010. He says he is still learning the American style of journalism, writing about Venezuela for Newsweek and other publications. One of his editors at Newsweek went to Vocativ, a multimedia site and technology platform. In time-honored style, the editor got in touch with Muñoz about writing for the site, and asked him for ideas. Muñoz chose as his first idea the Tower of David, an infamous never-finished building in Caracas that has been called the world’s tallest slum. The Tower was being emptied, and Muñoz thought it was a chance to say something new about it, and Venezuela.
Storyboard: How did this story come about?
Muñoz: I was trying to avoid this story for a long time. The Tower had been covered for many years and in 2013 came this excellent piece by Jon Lee Anderson, Slum Lord. He nailed marvelously the idea of the Tower as a metaphor for something bigger, like a political order that is rotten, all these deals and corruption taken to this space as a reflection of the Chávez order. After that I said, ‘well, what can I write about the Tower?’ But [the Venezuelan government] were going to empty the Tower, and I thought the people living there were undercovered, we didn’t know much about them. Not all of them were crooks, you know, not all of them were thieves, or drug dealers. Most of them were not. Most of them were workers, were mothers, so I wanted to know their stories.
Did you have to apply for permission to come into the Tower?
Yes. I had to get permission. Because it is my country, I knew the person, the urban development minister that was running this process of moving the people to a different location. He’s not my friend, but I’m good friends with his brother, so I managed to talk to him. He knows me as a journalist, he knows that I’m not with the process, as we say in Venezuela, I’m not a Chávista. But he knows I am a professional and that was fair enough. He allowed me to go in and wander around, but not too much. There is a lot of ideological discussion going on in this reporting. Many people are heavily indoctrinated, and [the authorities] will allow you to speak with some people but not with other people. So if the watchers would see me talking with you and you are not one of the authorized persons, they would go after you and would interrogate you. ‘What were you talking about, what did he ask?’ So it was like a little police state inside the tower.
Did you get as much access as Jon Lee Anderson did?
Different access. He was after the person who runs the whole tower, ‘El Niño’ Daza. When I came into the story El Niño was not in the picture anymore. He had mysteriously left the Tower. Nobody would talk about him, his name was like a forbidden name.
He was Voldemort.
Something like that. That was the big question, where was Voldemort? That was a question I also tried to clarify in the piece, where was El Niño Daza? Which I think was the only thing the piece lacks, the story of El Niño, but that allowed me to focus more on other characters that lived in the tower, and actually have access to the places where they lived so I would see the actual conditions in which they were inhabiting it. It’s a very terrible place, very dangerous in terms of the structure.
The piece ran with a number of photos and a multimedia piece. Were you involved with those?
I don’t know who made the multimedia. I know the photographer. He worked really hard. He spends a lot of time on his stories. He went there many times, as much as I did. But he would go at different hours. I would never go at night because I knew it was very dangerous. But he didn’t mind. He would spend the night there. He’s much younger, he lives his stories with a lot of adrenaline and passion. I’m more settled, I’m looking for different things.
Did the two of you talk about things you’d observed?
We exchanged notes, we did some of the visits together. We came at it from different perspectives. But in the end the result was kind of the same, I was expelled from the Tower and he was forbidden to go back to the Tower. [Getting expelled] didn’t make the story, I didn’t want to make the story about me. And it happened after I finished, so that was great.
You told me you were writing this for people reading on cell phones. What was that like?
That’s not derogatory. It’s a technique. I didn’t master it. I’m much more about giving context, explaining things, and this new media/social media journalism is much more about impressions and soundbites and bits of information that give you an idea very quickly and sometimes superficially.
So by combining a lot of them you think you get past the limitations of the medium?
Exactly. It’s the flow of information that keeps the piece moving. That is the narrative thread you have to follow. I kept that in mind. The building is something solid, it’s static, very structured, you cannot move a building. That’s why I thought focusing on people was so important.
Emptying the Tower of David, the World’s Tallest Ghetto
The future of Venezuela, seen through its most infamous skyscraper
Originally published on Vocativ, December 10, 2014.
CARACAS, VENEZUELA — The four large moving trucks idled outside the Tower of David as hundreds of people loaded up everything they owned: plasma TVs, stoves, mattresses, even a few pet parrots. After eight years, residents were finally leaving one of the world’s most notorious slums — a place that’s long mirrored the country’s hopes and failures. You start out with this, the story feels like it’s about the building, the building is your main character. There’s a bit of acknowledgement of the thing Jon Lee Anderson had already done. When you were constructing the narrative was that something you felt you had to do, simply because it was true, or did you try other things? I wanted to start with the people moving, already in the bus, leaving the Tower. That was the first introduction to the piece. They asked me to reconstruct that with the Tower as protagonist of the story. I think the Tower is a valid and legitimate protagonist of every story, because the Tower itself tells the story of the city. Caracas in the ’70s was the most promising city in Latin America. The Tower was the last of the buildings of a country that dreamed about being First World. It’s part of the pathos of all desires that are related to the tower. You do talk about the people leaving, loading up what they owned, everything from TVs and mattresses, which we would expect, to stoves and parrots. It feels like you’re trying to blend the Tower and its residents so you’re not just writing about the Tower as metaphor. Is that deliberate on your part? It’s maybe a little touch of magical realism, that we lived in a very backward way in a very modern structure.
Surrounded by green mountains and hillsides of modest homes, the Tower of David can be seen from almost every corner of this densely populated capital. And from a distance, the building looks like any other skyscraper.
Look more closely, however, and it’s clear that the Tower is anything but ordinary. Nearly half the windows are missing on one side, so from certain angles, the building looks like a jagged carcass. Satellite dishes congregate like vultures on the Tower’s flank, and rather than sleek elevators, a staircase winds up 28 floors, transporting thousands of squatters to their makeshift homes.
The Tower is a vertical ghetto so aesthetically grim that the producers of Homeland once used it as a plotline. In the show’s third season, Sergeant Nicholas Brody, one of the main characters, is on the lam when a CIA-paid thug named “El Niño” imprisons him in the Tower and later protects him from the U.S. government. In this fictional world, the Tower is a den of sin, a refuge for criminals, rogues and runaways.
In the real world, it’s a far more complicated place. Just ask Luiselmy Reinoso, a 31-year-old hostess with long brown hair and electric blue nails. She’s one of the tower’s 5,000 residents. For seven years, she and her boyfriend have lived here and raised five children. “We spent three weeks in a tent before they assigned us space on the 20th floor,” Reinoso said. “The place we got was full of rubble and garbage, and I was about to give birth. They relocated us on the 18th floor, [and] that’s where we built our house, little by little: first the outer walls, then the dividing walls, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and balcony.” This is the first person we meet. Was she someone you were approved to speak with? I found her on the bus. I snuck onto one of the public buses that were transporting them. So I was able to be with the people as they were moving and I got a lot of information there. But one of the leaders was particularly suspicious about me there and she became very aggressive. Reinoso is the first [quoted] and one of the last because in my initial idea I was starting with the bus and I would finish when they get to their apartment, the way they were imagining their next life, the way they were going to live with their own bedrooms, own bathrooms, they would place the TV set on a wall, a big one, a flat screen thing, and on the other wall a big poster of Chavez. I picked her because she was a nice-looking woman and she had all these externalities of the idea of beauty in Venezuela. She had very long fingernails painted in a super shiny blue, like a sporty car. That was a detail that caught my attention immediately. Her boyfriend, partner, he was a very nice guy, too, very open to talking.
On a warm day in August, Reinoso and her family were finally saying goodbye to the building. The government was transporting them to Zamora City, a town located roughly an hour away in the Tuy Valley, one of the country’s most dangerous areas. They’re moving from this tall ghetto to someplace you suggest is more dangerous? It’s more dangerous. The main difference is they are going to real apartments, which is a huge improvement. The crucial thing was these people would feel they owned something. They couldn’t sell it or deal with it for maybe five to 10 years, so it won’t become a big business for, like, housing traffickers.
Earlier that day, rain clouds had hovered over the capital, but now they’d disappeared and a fresh breeze was blowing as Reinoso led her children down the Tower’s steep concrete steps. When they arrived at the bottom, they boarded one of four red buses idling nearby and watched as the tower disappeared behind them. “The important thing is to have a stable home,” Reinoso said. “Everything else is manageable.”
The Tower itself has shown a similar ability to adapt. It started as the dream of David Brillembourg, a banker who wanted to make the building the centerpiece of a Latin American Wall Street. It was to be called the Confianzas Tower, but Brillembourg died unexpectedly in 1993. The next year, the country experienced its worst financial crisis in history, and most of Venezuela’s banks were wiped out. The government took over the Tower, and for a decade, the building was nothing more than a concrete skeleton wrapped in glass panels. You use some interesting metaphor around the way it looks, a carcass you say, this sort of dead building – a sinister carcass yes. Let me point out first that as bizarre as it may be, people would like to live in that place above many other places, because it was in the heart of the city. There was a huge housing crisis in Venezuala, about 3 million houses [less than needed]. You don’t put that information in here, you keep it spare. Is that deliberate on your part? They didn’t want me to load the piece with data. The rationale was because this has to be read on a cell phone. That was one of the criteria, you don’t want to distract the reader with a little story or a little data that can grab the attention from the thread.
In 2007, amidst a terrible housing shortage, hundreds of squatters — most of them from the city’s poorest neighborhoods — broke into the building. Over the next four years, as the country struggled with a massive housing shortage, the government of Hugo Chávez encouraged roving bands of squatters to construct makeshift homes in more than 150 vacant buildings across the capital. Chávez had promised to lift millions out of poverty and create a more just, equitable society. The poor benefitted from his socialist revolution, as their incomes rose in part because of the largest oil windfall in the country’s history. But for many, Caracas had become a lawless city, and the Tower became an emblem of the revolution’s shortcomings.
So last summer, when Nicolas Maduro, Chávez’s handpicked successor, announced his plans to evacuate the building and relocate its residents, the Tower was once again set to become a symbol of the state of the country. Indeed, as Venezuela reeled from months of heated protests, a battered economy and spiraling crime, the new president seemed to be banking on the idea that moving the building’s residents into modest new homes would help improve their lives, cement his legacy, mend the revolution’s image and shore up his political base.
Though the government announced its relocation plans in July, behind the scenes, the negotiations with the Tower’s residents began months earlier. Organizers dubbed the effort “Operation Zamora.” The transfer program was spearheaded by Ernesto Villegas, Venezuela’s minister of urban transformation. That spring, he held a series of secret meetings with members of the housing cooperative that organized the Tower’s residents. Did you ever talk to Villegas or his people about these meetings? Once. Just to confirm. I called Villegas thousands of times. He talked to me when I found him in a meeting. It was supposed to be a success story for Villegas and for the government. And it was somehow. But they wanted the journalists to talk about how Maduro’s government was tackling some of the most important problems, so that was their aim. His goal: to convince the squatters that the building was unsafe and that their lives would be improved if they moved to modern new homes in Zamora City. Did you try to recreate these secret meetings or decide it would be a distraction? I wanted to use information in a way that didn’t compromise my sources. They were living in the Tower at the time.
Convincing residents to leave wasn’t easy. Initially, they rejected the moving plans. They felt Zamora was too far away and too dangerous. Living in the Tower wasn’t ideal, but it was far better than living in the slums, and many worried the move could make life harder.
Villegas reminded them that the Tower itself had its own problems, its own tainted reputation. A 4-year-old girl fell to her death from the 25th floor in 2010 while her mother was selling coffee downstairs. Two years later, the police raided the building on suspicions that residents had kidnapped a Costa Rican diplomat. They never found him, but the incident only added to the Tower’s notoriety.
What ultimately convinced the Tower’s residents, however, was a trip to the countryside and the promise that everyone who left would have their own home. In the end, roughly 800 of the building’s 1,157 families agreed to move in August. The rest would be relocated by the end of the year.
The negotiations were a rare victory for the Venezuelan president. Since Chávez’s death in the spring of 2013, Maduro has been forced to deal with a host of problems — from his predecessor’s daughters, who wouldn’t leave the presidential palace, to bogus rumors that he’s actually Colombian, an insult to many here in this nationalistic country.
Maduro’s main problem, however, has been the economy. Chávez left him a country in severe decline. But under Maduro’s stewardship, things have gotten even worse. After winning a highly contested election, the president has been plagued by spiraling inflation, climbing crime rates and shortages on everything from airline tickets to toilet paper. Most economists say the country needs to reduce the government’s massive subsidy on gas, which sells for less than 10 cents a gallon. But Maduro has resisted that move, fearing it would disproportionally hurt his political base, poor people like those living in the Tower.
Perhaps because so much is riding on the move to Zamora City, security was tight when I visited the building in August. Guards patrolled the entrance, and most residents were wary of speaking to me. Many said they couldn’t be seen talking to strangers without permission from the building coordinators — longtime residents who unofficially help manage the floors. These coordinators tried to follow me from the moment I entered the Tower to the moment I left.
From the inside, the Tower of David felt like an ancient ruin. Gusts of wind blew candy wrappers across the building’s atrium, and clusters of flies buzzed overhead. The scent of rotting garbage and raw sewage permeated the air. On some floors, residents painted the walls in various colors and hung posters of Chávez, who many remember with love and admiration.
Not all the Tower’s residents are poor, and the differences in wealth are obvious. On one visit, I bumped into Mayra Castillo, a 26-year old government employee with an undergraduate degree in education. Her husband works for Venezuelan state television, and the couple owns a car and a nice two-bedroom apartment with ceramic tiled floors. They don’t seem like the people who should be in this building. Did they really own this? They had bought it. One of the businesses of El Niño Daza was selling space in the tower. So they bought it. They refurbished it, transformed it into an apartment. It looked decent and clean.
They came to the Tower in 2011 because the nicer parts of the capital were too expensive. Since they moved into the building, they’ve spent thousands of dollars turning their apartment into a middle-class home. Because they both work normal business hours, moving outside the city will mean spending considerable time stuck in the capital’s notoriously bad traffic. But they still signed up for the move. “Buying an apartment in Caracas would cost more than $100,000,” Castillo said. “And there’s no way we could afford that.
Other residents aren’t so fortunate. Carolina Moreno, 43, moved to the Tower in 2012. Previously, she lived with her husband in a four-bedroom house in a low-income neighborhood in the western part of the city. The couple owned a small security-guard company, which Moreno managed. Now she’s divorced and unemployed and takes care of her granddaughter. “We made good money until my husband left me and kicked me out of our business,” she said. “I ended up here, thanks to the pastor of my church.” This woman gets in based on the pastor of her church? He’s pulling strings for her to get her into this? Her situation was so desperate that she asked the pastor to help her. She was the first woman I met. She was living inside of a column, a big pillar, in a hole, in a rat hole, with her grandson, her daughter and her son-in-law. She didn’t have a sewer or running water.
Moreno’s early life in the building wasn’t easy. And as we chatted on our way to her apartment, I could see she was holding back tears. “It was horrible at first,” she said. “Come and see the space I’m living in. I can’t call it a house.
Moreno was living on the ground floor of the Tower in a tiny room she created between two hollow concrete pillars. The only light in her apartment came from a single 60-watt bulb hanging from a sewage pipe on the ceiling. Inside one pillar there was a two-ring stove beside a toilet bowl. Near the other pillar were a headboard, a mattress and a computer. These were all the belongings she had left from her marriage. “I try not to think about the way I’m living,” she said. “When I look at the cooking stove right next to the toilet bowl, I beg God to give me the strength to keep on living.”
But the promise of a new life in Zamora City has given her hope. “God appointed Hugo Chávez to bless this Tower,” she said. “Thanks to him, they’re going to give us a house. The minister said no one will be left behind.” Even she says God appointed Hugo Chavez to bless this tower. Maduro is not getting credit for this move. It’s true. You would see decorations around of Chavez posters but not Maduro. Did you use that quote deliberately to reflect this? Yeah, to reflect how strong a figure Chavez was for them. Like a protector, an angel, somebody who would really look after them. I had to be honest, I didn’t like that they were so taken by somebody who was already dead. It reflects how deeply Chavez’s myth is rooted in the people’s mentality.
Moreno may be right. But at least one of the Tower’s residents has disappeared. Like the gang leader from Homeland, he’s known as “El Niño,” but his real name is Alexander Daza. He’s an ex-convict turned evangelical minister. A short, solidly built man with a handsome baby face, Daza spearheaded the invasion of the Tower and the early efforts to organize the building’s residents. Many of those who arrived after the takeover had to pay him between $1,000 and $4,000 for a place to build their homes. As Jon Lee Anderson explained in a story for The New Yorker last year, Daza also charged residents about $20 a month for maintenance. These fees, he said, were required to cover utilities.
Many who lived outside of the Tower saw Daza as a criminal and a thug. And he did have it better than most in the building: He lived on the first floor, One of the details I liked in here was this one; usually in a tower the best apartments have a view, so here it reflected that he didn’t have to climb the stairs. Of course. He had the best apartment, on the first floor. owned a Ford SUV and another home in Caracas. He may have taken a cut for himself, but many residents say the police used to kidnap Daza and extort him for money, and that’s where many of their payments went. El Niño insisted he wasn’t a millionaire running a criminal enterprise. “We have order here,” he told The New Yorker. “These places aren’t prison cells, but homes. No one’s forced to collaborate. No one’s a tenant. We’re all inhabitants.”
Despite Daza’s fame, or infamy, most of the inhabitants acted during my time at the Tower like he was a ghost. One Saturday afternoon, I went to the building for a wedding in the lobby. Was it staged for you? No. it was a real wedding. I knew about the wedding through a couple of sources, including Maria Avendaño. She was a seamstress. She would talk openly with me. And she was very opinionated. She was part of the coordinators of the Tower but had her own opinions, and that was not something really acceptable. So I kept calling her, on the cell phone, way after I had finished. She gave me good sources.
A flood had delayed the ceremony for several hours, and as I waited, a woman named María Avendaño appeared.
Like Daza, she was a member of the original group that came to the Tower. She’s proud of how she and the other residents helped to create rules and regulations that improved people’s lives, how they installed a water tank in the building and electricity on most of its floors. She scoffed at the Homeland-like perception of the Tower as a nest of criminals and kidnappers. The building’s security force does have guns, she said, but to keep criminals out, not to protect them; the bad guys left because Daza kicked them out. “All of El Niño’s efforts were towards getting people decent housing,” she said. “It’s sad he’s not here to see this.”
The way many in the Tower recall Daza is similar to how many in Venezuela remember Chavez — with a mix of fondness and nostalgia that borders on melodrama. “El Niño is an emblem of the Venezuela Chavez represented,” Anderson, the New Yorker reporter, told me. “He wanted to rise in the world but didn’t know how. His past and his origins in the slums didn’t prepare him, but his intentions were to seek good in the darkness surrounding him. There’s no doubt he had killed, but he didn’t seem sinister or cruel like other criminals I’ve known.” You mention Anderson in this story. You even quote him. That’s usually something reporters don’t do. Was it hard to get that by your editors? I just put it in. That’s one of the advantages or disadvantages of not knowing all the rules of the land here. In Latin America I’m not a reporter in the classical sense. I’m a cronista, a chronicler. In our literary and journalistic situation the chronicler has much more freedom to write a mix of essay with story and reporting. I think it was important to give you an idea of who Daza was and he’s the one who did it. I felt comfortable quoting him.
As the guests at the wedding milled around, I told Avendaño I’d heard rumors that Daza was in prison. She looked at me with pursed lips, then gestured to a guard standing nearby. It wasn’t, she mumbled, the right time or place to talk about such things.
A few days later, a resident of the Tower, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, told me that Daza had been arrested in December 2013 and was taken to the penitentiary of Aragua state. Known as Tocorón, this is one of the most violent prisons in Venezuela. It’s not clear what he was charged with. But during his first few days in prison, a source told me that Daza was sad and desperate behind bars. “He begged me for help,” the source said, also asking for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “He was in constant fear for his life and couldn’t believe he was back in a place where there were continuous riots and deadly fights between inmates armed to the teeth, a place he thought he’d never return to.”
Yet the source said Daza managed a few days into his sentence to establish a good relationship with the rest of the prisoners. He also became the pastor of the prison church. Much like the Tower itself, Daza apparently understood he had to change to survive. Did you try to find him? I tried. I wanted to go to a jail, but for that you need a special kind of help from the inside. I didn’t have that. I was working on that but I didn’t have enough time. That’s the only thing I feel dissatisfied with.
Back on that warm day in August, just before noon, the bus carrying Reinoso, the longtime Tower resident, arrived in Zamora City. What she saw was a kind of oasis. Did she tell you this, or did you also experience this as something of an oasis when you saw it? She was very, very expressive. That’s why I chose her, she was very expressive. They were all expressing their emotions very freely, they were all enthusiastic about their new lives.
Surrounded by mountains, Zamora City is built on 289 acres. It consists of dozens of apartment buildings painted in different pastel colors and connected by concrete paths and tree-lined gardens. The buildings had real bathrooms, real walls, real windows, bannisters and balconies. Each complex was only five stories high, so residents won’t have to climb up and down hundreds of stairs. Some of the work was unfinished, but the goal is to build 174 buildings with more than 3,400 apartments. Those who agreed to the move had to sign a document swearing that they wouldn’t lease or sell their apartments.
For Reinoso and her family, the agreement wasn’t a problem. They truly felt that the worst was behind them. “It’s spectacular!” Reinoso said as she stepped foot into the apartment. “It’s so beautiful.”
As we strolled through their new home, the family seemed mesmerized. As streams of sunlight poured in through the windows, Reinoso said she would put the plasma TV in the middle of the living room. Her boyfriend smiled slyly. A moment later, he slapped an empty wall exclaiming euphorically, “And here’s where we’ll put a great big photo of the commander, Hugo Chávez.”
Elsewhere, hundreds of other new residents scurried to their apartments, too. Only one person, whose apartment was flooded, seemed disappointed. Though some complained about the distance from Caracas, their jobs and their social lives, the atmosphere was celebratory.
But as people unloaded their belongings, the press secretary for the local mayor told me that a group of homeless people had invaded 20 apartments nearby. “The government can’t let this continue,” the official said, asking for anonymity. “It’s contrary to the message we want to convey. We have to get them out of here, by force and with the National Guard if necessary.
Other problems arose as well. A few miles away, locals were demonstrating against the newcomers, who they feared would bring drugs and crime along with them. Several hours later, a round of shots rang out, and I later learned the man who had fired them was a former resident of the Tower who had been trying, along with a few friends, to break into apartments and rob his new neighbors. That night, the former residents of the Tower met and all agreed that they had to prevent such incidents from happening in Zamora City.
Over the next few months, most of the people who left the Tower did so voluntarily. Despite a few complaints, Venezuelan officials said the evacuation process had gone well. “We’re not perfect,” said Gustavo Villapol, Villega’s assistant, “but we’ve shown we’re humanitarian and capable of dialogue.” All the Tower’s residents will have to depart by Dec. 31, and most of the remaining people are illegal immigrants who will need to acquire citizenship before the government would give them new homes.
Now speculation is rising about what will become of the Tower. Some say the Chinese government will buy the building and use it as their financial headquarters in Latin America. Venezuela owes billions to Beijing, and relinquishing the skyscraper could help service it. Others say the Tower needs to be repurposed for patriotic means. “The people’s true opinion on what to do with the Tower hasn’t been explored yet,” said a Chávez supporter and community leader from the Tower who asked I print his name only as Carlos. “This is a space won with blood and fire for the revolution and it should still belong to the revolution.”
In the meantime, everything isn’t as rosy in Zamora City as it once seemed. Many complain about the long commute through rush-hour traffic, which can last two to three hours. Other parts of their new lives still seem familiar. Running water comes only twice a week, and in September a baby fell from a fourth-floor stairwell. After weeks in the intensive care unit, the child survive
The fate of Maduro’s country, however, is even less certain. Since the move in August, the president’s popularity has plunged further — right along with the economy. Chávez used his charisma and the threat of foreign imperialism to deflect criticism at home, but Maduro hasn’t been able to follow suit. As the price of oil continues to fall, pushing Venezuela’s economy closer to the brink, the price of nearly everything else — from cookies to coffins — continues to spiral. In other words, life for Venezuelans — whether in the Tower of David or Zamora City — is only getting harder.In the end, we don’t really know the future of the tower. You have this coda of the question mark. How did you try to approach that as a narrative? We still don’t know what’s going to happen with the tower a year and a half after! That made me wonder a lot, how would I end this piece? In the beginning, I had this circular structure. But that was gone after the first draft. I had to figure out what the future is, what it’s going to be like, but I couldn’t answer that question. That’s maybe something that left me dissatisfied. But in the end that happens all the time. That tower has just been a source of dissatisfaction. Maybe that’s perfect. There is the idea of the metaphor of the decay of the tower, they were leaving the tower but the whole economy is crumbling. I wanted to leave the piece with what’s happening. So it’s a very precise image, maybe a little bit abstract and far from the reader’s experience, but very close to what I was witnessing.