Five Latin American “white elephants”

In Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela some works were built that were not completed with the expected success

Five Latin American "white elephants"

Leer en español: Conozca cinco “elefantes blancos” latinoamericanos

What is a "White Elephant"?

A "White Elephant" is the installation of a real estate that has a negative impact on the community since it is abandoned; their costs outweigh the benefits of their operation, since they are not used or given a different use to the purposes for which they were created.

It is assured that this expression comes from a story in which the Kings of Siam gave white elephants to the albinos with the aim of ruining them because of their large size and high maintenance costs. The animals became great annoyances for their owners and their costs were very high compared to the benefits obtained.

Leja em português: Conheça cinco "elefantes brancos" da América Latina

The "white elephants" in Latin America

In Latin American countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, the phenomenon of the 'White Elephant' has generated strong financial impacts.

1. Poor quality at Paso Express Mexico – Cuernavaca:

It was inaugurated with the promise of being a construction of excellent quality. The main objective was to allow tourists to arrive from Mexico City to Acapulco, traveling three hours and 15 minutes. There are 15 kilometers that go from before the departure of La Paloma de La Paz to the Polvorín. However, there were flaws in the structure of this work, since after its inauguration a five-meter deep sinkhole was opened. In this collapse fell a vehicle whose crew died, presenting a tragedy of great magnitude in Mexico.

2. A field instead of laboratories in Colombia:

A soccer field ended up occupying the place where the laboratories of the District University were going to be located. The fact arose because in 2012, the educational establishment made a contract with Unión Fénix for a value of 12,411 million pesos. They turned 1,982 million pesos for technical studies and legalizations of the contract, but the Plan of Territorial Ordering (POT) stopped the works. At this time, the project has advanced by only 16%, which corresponds only to design studies. Similarly, there have been a series of irregularities such as the lack of building permits and the permits required by the Curator.

3. An unfinished project because of Odebrecht:

In Venezuela there are 11 initiatives undefined because of this multinational construction company. One of the most famous and controversial cases was that of the Nigale Bridge, whose work began in 2006 and had to be completed in 2010. The initial investment was 152 million bolivars, but there was a delay in the construction of the bridge and there were no seen the results. It was projected as the third longest suspension bridge in Latin America with an underground part, but of that structure there is nothing.

4. Heavy congestion in Brasilia:

There are two white elephants that have generated a series of urban challenges in the Brazilian capital. One of them is the huge football stadium that was built for the World Cup, but at the moment it is being used as a parking lot. To solve this issue, he has decided to turn the stadium IGNORE INTO a cultural-sports complex with a museum, library and movie theaters. On the other hand, there is a complex of 16 buildings that is unused due to an order of justice investigating corruption around the work.

5. A building located in Ciudad Oculta:

The building, called White Elephant, is located in the neighborhood of Villa Lugano in the city of Buenos Aires. It is a semi-abandoned structure that was going to be the largest hospital in Latin America, but never became one. There the Institute of Tuberculosis was intended to be installed; the works began in 1938, but they were inconclusive. Some people from the Hidden City wanted to change the name, and the May Mothers Association said that it already had the perfect name.

These are just some of the 'white elephants' that exist in Latin America, with complex stories behind each of them. These constructions have generated serious economic and social impacts as a result of irregularities and corruption.


Latin American Post | Daniel Cuevas

Translated from "Conozca cinco “elefantes blancos” latinoamericanos"

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