06 | DIC | 2019
Fancies of former Mexican presidents in Los Pinos

Fancies of former Mexican presidents in Los Pinos

24/08/2019
13:52
Sonia Sierra
Mexico City
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Professional flight simulators, heliports in the garden, soccer fields, and rooms over pools are just some of the luxurious additions of presidents in Los Pinos

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A two-floors house for the office of the first lady Angélica Rivera – in which staircase of almost 30 steps she and her daughter posed Marie Claire magazine –; a flight simulator and a soccer field; two buildings, each with a parking lot and three floors; a room over a pool made specially to hang the portraits of the Heads of State; all of these are infrastructure works - in addition to the ones that can be seen since December 1st, 2018 – of the fancy of the last presidents in the official residence Los Pinos.

The opening to the public of other areas of the Cultural Complex Los Pinos to celebrate the children’s party “Mis Pininos en Los Pinos,” attended by more than 52,000 persons in May, allows visiting corners and luxuries never seen before. Today, the luxurious characteristics of those works can be seen in detail.

An example of how buildings were discarded to build new ones, according to the fancy or interests of the governor in turn is what happened in the cabin “Dos.” During the administration of Vicente Fox, the architect Juan Artigas built two cabins: in the “Uno” lived the President with his wife, and in “Dos,” his children. Calderón used those same buildings. But it was Enrique Peña Nieto who built over cabin “Dos” a new impressive residence, emulating the style of the main house of Los Pinos, “La Alemán.” This new building was used for the offices of the then-first lady, Angélica Rivera.

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There is nothing left in it from the original style of the cabin and, even less, from the houses Luis Echeverría had built there. Those who once visited Los Pinos can remember that both cabins, in times of Fox and Calderón, were equal: with one floor and rustic style. During the government of Peña, where cabin “Dos” was located, this house for offices was built, with two floors, balconies, high windows and multiple spaces of different sizes, which are not for living but for working.

When you enter the house, you can see the stairs where Rivera and Sofía Castro posed for Marie Claire. It is said that it was in one of the rooms of this house that the then-president of the DIF recorded the video after the White House scandal. This house has eight restrooms; no baths nor dressing rooms. The height of the house is over 9 meters (the cabins were originally 2 meters tall). At the entrance of this new cabin “Dos” is a mark of the architect who built it “C&S.” Nothing more: there are no documents, plans, names of who were in charge of the project. Less than half a meter away is a private entrance to that house that leads to Calzada Del Rey.

The size of the cabins and “La Alemán” can be used to compare what was built and up to where: “La Alemán,” which is the main house of Los Pinos, has a construction area of 4,035 square meters; the house where Fox and Calderón lived is 1,540 meters; Rivera’s house for offices is 2,700 square meters.
 

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Architect Homero Fernández, who is the general coordinator of the Cultural Complex Los Pinos, said in an interview: “In all the projects, it is unknown which architect did what. Regarding the offices in cabin “Dos,” we know they belonged to Rivera; the personnel that worked there has said they were of a company she had with her sister, in which she rented everything to the Presidency: stands, speakers, microphones. The house has terrible taste and has a horrible rail, the same Peña Nieto put in Casa Lázaro Cárdenas. Calderón and Peña noticed that if they did any construction, any remodeling or fix they could charge what they wanted because there was no transparency in Los Pinos, for a national safety issue.”

Nowadays, by touring through Los Pinos, you can see many other spaces in the same vein: in cabin “Uno,” where Fox lived, the rustic style prevails with roof tile and details in rock with a hint to Mexican haciendas; the handles in the drawers of the dressing rooms are made of leather; the windows are from floor to ceiling. Luxury is not minor.

In the multi-purpose room that will host rehearsals of the Carlos Chávez School Orchestra, nothing suggests a professional flight simulator used by Peña Nieto. As happened in almost the whole residence, when the new government arrived, there was no trace of that simulator. Outside is the heliport built on the garden. On the other side, next to Rivera’s offices, is the soccer field, also from Peña Nieto’s times.
 

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Peña Nieto also built the room De La Madrid. Made with the same style as Rivera’s offices – big concrete columns – it was built over a pool and was created to put there the portraits of the former presidents of Mexico, which used to be in Casa Carranza.

Two infrastructures that do not correspond with the rest of the residency are buildings with three floors. The first, “Bicentenario,” was built by Felipe Calderón. It will be the headquarters of Fonca. There is no information on its construction.

The second building was made by Peña Nieto. It is known as “Esmeralda,” because of its green glasses, and can be seen from Constituyentes. One of its three floors was used by Aurelio Nuño, although the then-head of SEP had his offices in Downtown. For this property, with a construction area similar to “La Alemán,” an entrance in Constituyentes was opened. The cost of the access was of MXN $78.3 million, according to information of the National Defense Ministry.
 

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“Until now, I don’t know all the spaces. Under one building are other spaces, little rooms...” says the renowned dentist and arts promoter Isaac Masri, who will be the head of the Honorary Board of Los Pinos. He says it is irrelevant to know who lived in which house and that he will not add to rumors: “I don’t like spreading rumors because it adds to the uncertain, the lie, the false. I don’t know how they lived.”

Even though they have requested the plans and documents of the former administrations, they have received no answers: “It’s out of our control. The Institute for Administration and Valuation of National Real Estate must have a huge amount of plans; they have given us some, but none is complete; there is nothing that allows us to say this was built on this date, by this architect, it cost this much, etc.”
 

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To define how the presidents built, Masri uses one word: “anarchy.” “I believe [the buildings] are anarchic, but that’s how was Presidency in Mexico. In the White House, all presidents get in, attend people in the Oval Room, they have their room; perhaps each president puts red curtains, Trump chooses golden ones… but it’s the same house, the same gardens. That didn’t happen here: they came and it was anarchy. The Lázaro Cárdenas was a house in human scale, where Cárdenas lives and attends peoples. Then, others come and decide “I want a big house;” they build a house with French-styled rooms, architects with different tastes come, remodel, make changes, add furniture, change furniture, take the furniture away and we know nothing… It was anarchy: there was a secret consignment so that they could change whatever they wanted; they built inside without licenses, inspector, anything. It was just the President's fancy.

Masri considers that in the whole complex of Los Pinos there are three spaces of cultural and historical value: the Lázaro Cárdenas residence, for what it represents in the history of the Petroleum Expropriation; the aqueduct, of which there are only some scattered hidden remains; and the historical building Molino del Rey. “I have received projects of very important architects saying that 80% of the buildings should be destroyed.”
 

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