The Sisal Towers in Barquisimeto: another story of Venezuelan corruption, black magic and deaths

Las Torres del Sisal en Barquisimeto: una historia de corrupción, magia negra y muertes




An aura of mystery surrounds the Torres del Sisal, a now old building that began construction in 1976 during the first presidential term of Carlos Andrés Pérez, when Dori Parra de Orellana was Governor of Lara State, in Venezuela’s central-western region.

By: Yanitza Martínez // Correspondent

The housing project was destined to become the largest and most luxurious residential towers in Venezuela, a very ambitious project that, according to locals, brought a kind of curse upon it as it was the scene of strange, dark and even paranormal activities, according to the tales told by those who know its history.

It was originally conceived as a residential park of four 27-story towers with capacity to house about a thousand families located in the Industrial Zone of Barquisimeto. As construction progressed in the 1970s, it was noticed the instability of the terrain, which caused the towers to settle and tilt with a serious threat of collapsing.

Likewise, structural problems were detected in the construction creating a serious risk in the event of any seismic event considering its proximity to the Boconó fault.

By then, the construction company in charge, about which there is no further information, ran out of funds. The engineer in charge of the works, greatly affected by the precarious financial situation of the construction company, decided to end his life by jumping into the void from the top floor of one of the towers, dying instantly. This man became the first person to commit suicide at the scene. The project was paralyzed at the end of the 70s.

From that moment on a curse seems to have settled in the ‘Torres del Sisal’ and since then those spaces have been used as a den of criminals but also for the practice of ‘Santeria’, witchcraft, animal sacrifices and, unfortunately, it has also been used by people with mental and emotional health problems to threaten their own lives.

According to testimonies from those who have had the opportunity to climb those towers, in the place “the energy is different, they have heard screams” and even voices inciting suicide.

Neighbors claim to encounter creepy scenes: Santeria altars, remains of dead animals, garbage, among other things, which have fueled urban legends that have proliferated around the housing complex for almost 50 years.

Corruption portfolio

Several governments have tried to resume the construction of this project. In 1995, the then Governor of Lara State, Orlando Fernández Medina, requested a budget allocation from the then President of the Republic, Rafael Caldera, but upon encountering a series of unspecified difficulties, he decided not to pursue the project.

Later, in 2001, the late president Hugo Chávez Frías, through the ‘Plan Bolívar 2000’, invested a large amount of money, promising that the towers would be ready in 2002, but everything remained an electoral promise.

Although there are no clear records of the amounts approved for the completion of the works, in 2009 the amount of 100 million bolivars came to light from the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, directed at that time by Diosdado Cabello.

In 2010, the National Housing Institute announced the rehabilitation with a structural deficiency study of the buildings, and on that occasion they were included in the “Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela” (Venezuela Housing Great Mission), announcing the completion of the project for year 2011.

At that time, the scope of the works considered reinforcing the towers and increasing the number of floors of the original project. After an inspection by representatives of the Lara State College of Engineers, it was determined that the buildings did not meet the minimum resistance conditions, which is why they suggested the total demolition of the Sisal Towers.

In 2012, Hugo Chávez Frías, in his last re-election campaign before dying, once again promised to deliver 800 apartments but various factors came to bear and the promise never materialized and, furthermore, the approved resources were not sufficient.

A year later, engineers Vladimir Silva and Jairo Escalante, through the Ministry of Housing and Habitat made the most recent attempt to finish the towers. They then carried out supervision visits and requested the needed resources, and then announced the delivery of apartments to more than 200 families in what would be the El Sisal Bicentennial Residential City. Once again, everything became empty promises, because the building was never occupied.

Take down the towers

Four years ago the current Governor of Lara, Adolfo Pereira, when performing duties as a representative of public services, announced the total demolition of the towers.

At that time, Pereira declared that with this demolition they sought to stop the occurrence of tragedies and other happenings that have been woven in the stories around those towers.

At the end of 2023, the College of Engineers of the Lara State, chaired by Julio César Gutiérrez, recommended carrying out a new topographic study so that specialists can determine whether the resumption of construction is viable or, failing that, evaluate what other use can be given to that terrain.

Likewise, the engineer pointed out that the demolition must be well studied, since this is a residential area and a demolition by implosion must be carried out that could affect the structures of the other residences in the area, so experts must carefully evaluate the possible demolition to avoid causing other damage.

On the other hand, it must be evaluated the amount of debris that the demolition would leave behind, which would entail a set of significant expenses, and that is why it is recommended to carry out all these types of evaluations.

Furthermore, Governor Adolfo Pereira in his latest announcements has mentioned that they are evaluating the demolition, which is why they are carrying out the necessary studies to determine the viability of a demolition through implosion.

The people of Lara demand demolition

Nowadays mental health problems are rife and there is concern about the recent increase in cases of people who decide to end their lives, and these abandoned spaces are the springboard used by them.

In the Sisal Towers around 50 people have committed suicide, not counting the lifeless bodies that have been abandoned at the site. These events continue to occupy the headlines of the local and national press.

The last case was recorded last Monday, February 19th when a 34-year-old man tried to jump into the void, but thanks to the “saving action” of an police officer of the 911 Immediate Response Unit, who managed to dissuade the victim from attacking himself.

These tragedies and everything that has arisen around the Sisal Towers are the reasons why local residents argue to promote the demolition of what was once dreamed of being the largest housing project in Venezuela.