Mexico cut the ribbon on a pair of new monumental structures in recent days. One of them is a luminescent tower in the heart of Mexico City. Called the Stele of Light, it is a 341-foot tall illuminated structure set on the Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s main boulevard.
The fireworks around the monument were both literal (on Saturday night) and figurative. Critics decried the overruns that forced a fivefold increase in cost, ending up at nearly $100 million, or as one union pointed out – enough to build 150 schools.
Still, the inauguration Saturday was a time for celebration.
“Let the Stele of Light monument be an emblem of a new era for Mexico, an era in which the seed of a more secure, fair and prosperous nation flourishes,” President Felipe Calderon said.
Builders of the monument ran into huge delays. It was to be completed for the bicentennial in 2010, then for the end of 2011 but wasn’t finished till last week.
Protesters held up signs. One said: “This gigantic waste of money is a monument to corruption!”
The other huge project completed in recent days has a practical use. It is the Baluarte Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension span that Guinness lists as the world’s tallest bridge. The bridge, which crosses a deep ravine in the Western Sierra Madre Mountains, is so high that the Eiffel Tower could fit underneath.
The bridge is 3,687 feet long and at its central span is 1,321 feet over the river bed. Guinness officials were on hand at a ribbon cutting, chalking up the latest Mexican achievement in making a world record.
The Baluarte Bridge is one of several tunnels and bridges that will shorten the road trip between Mazatlan and Durango by as much as six hours. The current road is known as the "Devil's backbone" and winds dangerously through jagged peaks.
(Both photos are from the website of Calderon’s office at www.presidencia.gob.mx)