Jan. 9 - Mexico's controversial Trail of Light independence monument is finally switched on almost 18 months late and way over budget. Paul Chapman reports.
Mexico's Trail of Light was meant to be the crowning glory of the nation's 200th anniversary of independence from Spanish rule. That was nearly a year and a half ago. It's finally been switched on late and massively over-budget but nonetheless defended by President Felipe Calderon. SOUNDBITE: Mexican President Felipe Calderon saying (Spanish): "The weight of the structure increased from 800 to 1, 700 tonnes and as a result the time-frame of construction needed to be adjusted. This all represented an enormous engineering challenge, but thanks to these substantial modifications the Trail of Light is able to withstand winds, seismic events, and extreme conditions that weren't planned for in the original project." The inauguration ceremony in Mexico City attracted some protests. Many Mexicans see the Trail of Light more as a monument to the nation's public bureaucracy, corruption and inefficiency. SOUNDBITE: Unidentified man saying (Spanish): "We're tired of the corruption that exists in this country. The Trail cost 1.6 billion pesos and they didn't even consult the people. We're tired of the abuses of power of the politicians and senators who've given themselves a building worth 5 billion pesos at a time when we're going through a crisis." The cost of building the Trail of Light almost tripled to nearly 75 million U.S. dollars. Authorities have recently conceded that more than half the construction materials were imported, including steel columns from Italy and specially-made quartz panels from Brazil. Paul Chapman, Reuters