Cascade Park

Cascade Park

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Bicentennial Boondoggle

In 1910 to celebrate the centennial of Mexico's independence, the Monument to Independence (commonly referred to as "El Angel") was constructed along the Paseo de la Reforma.  It is one of the most beloved and iconic symbols of the city.

Prior to Mexico's bicentennial in 2010, plans were announced by President Felipe Calderón to construct a monument that would symbolize modern Mexico.  A competition was held, and the winning design was a 341 foot tall tower called the "Estela de Luz" … the Stele of Light (stele is an archaeological term given to the stone monuments of the Mayan culture). It was to be located along the Paseo de la Reforma at the entrance to Chapultepec Park.

The illuminated monument was to be covered with electric and quartz panels.  Work was begun in September of 2009, and the project was supposed to be completed in time for the bicentennial celebration on September 15, 2010.   As it turned out, the structure was not completed until December of 2011.  The cost was 1,304,000,000 pesos, three times the estimated cost.  The overruns were blamed on reinforcements needed to protect the tower from earthquakes and disputes with the architect and the construction company.  There were also plenty of allegations of government corruption.  

President Calderón had said that the "Estela" would become as emblematic as "El Angel".  In fact, residents jokingly refer to the "Estela" as the "Suavicrema", a brand of ice cream wafer.  I have never seen the monument illuminated at night, but critics say that it is overshadowed by the lights of the skyscrapers that stand nearby.

So, here is a photo of the infamous "Estela de Luz".  Compare it with "El Angel" in the photo above, and you can decide which is the more emblematic monument.

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