News, features, and commentary from the biggest city in the Americas, Mexico City.

Monument to Stupidity: The Estela de Luz

The "Estela de Luz" next to the Torre Mayor. (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

The “Estela de Luz” (L) and the Torre Mayor (R). (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

By Fritz Schtickelmeyer

One of the more bizarre sights on the landscape of Mexico City is a feature you’ll know well if you live here.

It’s a tower — I guess. It’s called the Estela de Luz, which, if you are unfamiliar with the Spanish language, means “Monument to Stupidity” — of politicians, that is.

And the words “incompetence” and “corruption” also come to mind.

I like art as much as the next guy, but I really never could figure out what to make of this thing. (I do know, however, that it was the administration of former President Felipe Calderón that is responsible for its existence.)

It sits next to the Torre Mayor, Mexico City’s highest skyscraper, and a building that actually serves a purpose.

But as for the Estela de Luz, basically, they put eight large posts in the ground, then covered them with some sort of marble-like panels they got from Home Depot.

And, they did it all for just one trillion dollars!

Eight posts, and cheap solar panels. (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

Eight posts, and cheap marble-like panels from Home Depot. (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

Huh? One trillion?

Of course, I’m kidding. It did not cost that much — it only cost MXN $1,304,000,000 pesos (USD $104 million). That’s dirt cheap for one of … uh … these things. (Whatever that might be.)

Oh, and did I mention that it was just slightly over-budget? Not by much, mind you — it was originally projected to cost 200 million pesos (USD$16 million). A few clerical errors in the accounting department, and it’s easy to go from 200 million pesos to 1,304 million pesos.

That’s only a 652% increase. Big deal. In many countries — like say Zimbabwe — this would not be an unreasonable amount to go over-budget.

Besides, surely the treasury has some sort of “emergency statue/monument fund” they could draw on to cover the costs.

It’s really not a big deal, and really, what else could they possibly spend such huge amounts of money on? Roads? Schools? Hospitals? Don’t be silly.

Grand Opening delayed … also ever so slightly

I also must mention that this thing was inaugurated in January 2012.

It was, however, supposed to be inaugurated in September 2010, in time for Mexico’s bicentennial celebrations. So apparently pouring concrete and putting up cheap panels took a bit longer than they anticipated.

Construction lasted over two years — 26 months in all.

The Estela Today

It’s important to note that the Estela de Luz plays an important part in the landscape of Avenida Reforma and the Chapultepec area. See, it serves as a billboard with flashing advertising messages of vital importance to the citizens of this fine city.


If there is a good thing about this space-occupying pile of concrete and marble, it’s that it will remind future generations of just how idiotic/incompetent Mexican politicians and government officials really can be.

Next time some Mexican politician has an idea to build a monument, I suggest he go to the nearest Home Depot, buy some sacks of cement, and hire a group of day laborers waiting around in the parking lot.

Seriously, how much could this possibly cost?

About Fritz Schtickelmeyer

A veteran journalist, he's reported from across the globe. For a brief time, was a high school teacher in Minnesota.

One comment on “Monument to Stupidity: The Estela de Luz

  1. aeizzy
    March 26, 2013

    It’s going to look like a toothpick once the BBVA Bancomer tower is complete … not to mention it is the only monument on all of Reforma that is not on the central axis.

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2013 by in Business/Industry, Commentary, politics, Travel / Transportation and tagged , .
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