Jorge's Feed
Apr 2, 2014
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The Tower of David – Venezuela’s “vertical slum”

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Caracas, Venezuela

By Jorge Silva

I have wanted to photograph life inside Caracas’ Tower of David – also known as “the vertical slum” – for years now. At times, it became something of an obsession; it was a story I had to tackle.

The tower is an icon of modern-day Caracas. Although squats or “occupied spaces” are common downtown, the Tower of David has literally taken the phenomenon to whole new levels. The third-tallest building in the country, it was intended as a financial center but abandoned after its developer died and the financial sector crashed. Squatters have now occupied the tower for years. Its unfinished, humongous, modified skeleton can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. The stories of what happens inside have become the stuff of urban legend.

Apr 2, 2014

Venezuela’s ‘skyscraper slum’ provides haven for poor

CARACAS (Reuters) – It boasts a helicopter landing pad, glorious views of the Avila mountain range, and large balconies for weekend barbecues.

Yet this 45-storey skyscraper in the center of Venezuela’s capital Caracas is no five-star hotel or swanky apartment block: it is a slum, probably the tallest in the world.

Mar 13, 2014
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A year without the Comandante

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Caracas, Venezuela

By Jorge Silva

March 5, 2014

Once in a great while there comes a day that marks the end of an era. That’s what happened the afternoon Hugo Chavez died.

It was a year ago as I write this blog, and at times I still find it hard to believe. He was such a dominant presence that in the days after his death that it seemed he would appear at any moment on national TV or in a military parade. The months passed and reality sank in. Today Venezuela seems to be a very different country from the one he left behind. It feels as if it happened a long time ago.

Feb 19, 2014

Venezuela opposition leader surrenders, protesters flood streets

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan security forces arrested opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on Tuesday on charges of fomenting unrest that has killed at least four people, bringing tens of thousands of his angry supporters onto the streets of Caracas.

Crowds of white-clad protesters tried to block the vehicle carrying the 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist after he made a defiant speech, said an emotional farewell to his family, and gave himself up to soldiers.

Feb 18, 2014

Protesters flood streets as Venezuela opposition leader arrested

CARACAS (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Venezuela’s capital on Tuesday after troops arrested opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on charges of fomenting unrest against the government and violence that has killed at least four people.

White-clad demonstrators blocked traffic in the streets of Caracas as a security vehicle holding the 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist crawled at a snail’s pace after he surrendered to security forces during an opposition rally.

Feb 18, 2014

Venezuela protest leader surrenders, fourth person dies in unrest

CARACAS (Reuters) – Hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez handed himself over to Venezuelan security forces on Tuesday and a fourth person died from political unrest over the past week against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist who has spearheaded the protest movement, got into an armored vehicle after giving a speech to an opposition rally in Caracas on another chaotic day in the South American OPEC member nation.

Sep 3, 2013
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Latitude Zero from underwater

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Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

By Jorge Silva

Once your eyes go below the ocean waterline, you know that there is an immense parallel universe brimming with images.

Ever since I began taking pictures I haven’t discovered anything that grabs me like diving does. Luckily, I don’t have to neglect photography while diving; they are perfectly complementary.

Dec 3, 2012
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Dreaming of diamonds

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By Jorge Silva

We are just north of the Amazon Basin, riding a boat on the Ikabaru River. The passengers are people who buy gold and diamonds. They stop at each of the illegal mines that appear as craters on the river’s edge. They carry small weighing scales that seem very accurate, magnifying loupes, burners to melt the gold and separate the mercury, and some large spoons to collect it.

They are also carrying bags full of cash.

We are very close to the porous and at times imperceptible triple border between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. The area is remote and hard to access. Getting here takes a day of navigating along the river, or flying in one of the small planes that land on makeshift dirt landing strips. There are no roads.

Oct 26, 2012
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Chavez’s latest K.O.

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By Jorge Silva

Before the recent election campaign in Venezuela, the last time that I had been close enough to Hugo Chavez to use a wide angle lens was last February when he left for Cuba to be treated for a recurrence of his cancer.  That farewell began as a solemn procession through the streets of Caracas, with Chavez dressed in black, riding in a dark van with open sunroof and an image of Christ on the windshield. His supporters showered him with flowers on the way to the airport, as he left his followers in suspended animation, and his future full of doubt.

This campaign was a re-encounter with him; one that many didn’t believe would happen again. His cancer disappeared from the agenda, and Chavez was back. For his followers it was the difference between night and day, or the idea of a Venezuela without him contrasted with his reappearance in power, where he had been for the last 14 years.

Jun 8, 2012
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Hugo Chavez: One year battling cancer

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By Jorge Silva

About a year ago, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez surprised us during a routine coverage at his Miraflores palace in Caracas. He appeared with a walking cane.

That was the first time he had ever shown any hint of a physical problem, or indeed any notion of fragility. A few days after that, he left on a tour of Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba where he was hospitalized and received emergency surgery in Havana. Weeks later, Chavez confirmed that a malignant, baseball-sized tumor had been removed from his pelvis, and the saga began.

    • About Jorge

      "Jorge Silva was born in Mexico City, where he studied journalism before deciding on photography. He began freelancing in 1998 in Mexico, and joined Reuters in 2000 as stringer based in Guatemala City. He was hired as staff photographer in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2003. His career highlights include troop embeds in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Haiti eartquake and World Cup in South Africa."
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