As part of my on going study of the development of urban slums I visited Caracas, Venezuela. This is home to the most violent and some of the largest slums in South America. It’s also one of the most politically volatile countries as ‘El Presidente’ Hugo Chavez purses his socialist party’s ‘Bolivian Revolution’.--break-- It is country where everyone takes a stance. Judging by the poverty and inequities that exist it has a long way to go. Caracas is now the murder capital of the world with around 7.700 murders a year, which is more than 20 a day. Of these only 3% end in the killers being caught so one can literally kill with impunity. It’s something I discovered as I got mugged at gunpoint on my first day, one gun to my head the other at my stomach. It’s the only time I’ve ever been mugged.

Many of the poor of Caracas work hard in an attempt to pull themselves out of their economic circumstances. The squatters of the Centro Financiero Confinanzas, a half built and abandoned office and mall development are literally attempting to build their own community after they organized themselves into a militia to throw out the gangs and know employ their own security guards to keep them out. It is a community trying to take control of it’s destiny but the forces of poverty surround them as with many of the poor globally and can drag them down into the abyss.

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