Tuesday 26 February 2013

Mexico’s International Court of Environmental Arbitration rejects sale of historic building to Walmart

Asilo de Mier y Pensado
Mexico’s International Court of Environmental Arbitration (Corte Internacional  Arbitraje Ambiental), has nixed the city of Orizaba’s attempt to sell the Asilo de Mier y Pesado to  Walmart de México.

The Asilo de Mier y Pesado is an unusual building in Mexico because of its feudal English style. Built as a replica of Windsor Castle in England, it was donated to the city of Orizaba some years ago and remains a favourite retreat for locals and tourists.  Orizaba, in the state of Veracruz, rests inland at an altitude of 1,200 meters (4000 feet).

Speaking on behalf of the court, Ramón Ojeda Mestre said that the building had historical and cultural value, and has been recognized since 2010 as being important to the cultural heritage of Veracruz.

He noted also that it was central to promoting tourism in the region, as it is among the “ten architectural wonders” of the state.

However, the fight may not be over, as the city has not officially given up on its plans to sell the historic property, which Walmart de México wants to turn into a Walmart and a Sams Club.

Walmart has been embroiled in a corruption scandal in Mexico related to paying politicians and municipal administrators kickbacks in order to receive building permits, one of which was near the pyramids of Teotihuacán.

Mexico has a long tradition of preserving historical buildings from corporate “branding”, as was most powerfully displayed in the fight to put a McDonalds in Oaxaca’s zocalo a decade ago.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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