Latin America & Caribbean

Mexican independence tower is late and over budget

Model of the Trail of Light monument; credit: bicentenario.gob.mx
Image caption The Trail of Light was not ready for Mexico's huge independence celebrations last year

Officials in Mexico have said that a monument being built in Mexico City to celebrate 200 years of independence from Spanish rule is late and over budget.

The monument is now expected to be ready in December.

The Trail of Light was meant to be a symbol of inspiration in last year's celebrations.

But most of the material had to be imported -- with steel columns from Italy and quartz panels from Brazil.

The official overseeing construction, Ignacio Lopez, said more than 60% of the content is foreign.

"The stainless steel columns cannot be produced in Mexico," he said.

"If a material is called for and it doesn't exist here, then it has to be brought in," added Mr Lopez.

Drug trouble

The Trail of Light - a monument of glass and translucent stone some 100m high in the capital - will change Mexico City's skyline.

It is meant to be a legacy for future generations, a symbol of hope in a country troubled by gang-related violence.

Image caption Mexico celebrated 200 years of independence in 2010

The drug conflict that has killed more than 30,000 people since late 2006, when the Mexican government launched a war on the cartels.

The tower missed the huge bicentennial celebrations in September 2010 and will be finished at more than double the originally-planned cost.

The setbacks have earned it unflattering nicknames, such as 'Monument of Mexican Dependence' and "Monument of Shame".

Mexican Education Secretary Alones Lujambio, who took over the project after last year's delays, said there was evidence of inefficiency, but not corruption.

Mr Lujambio said there were other problems, including the need for deeper foundations for the tower.

"That's where the millions we have spent are: 50 metres underground," he said

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