The three “White Elephants” of Ivonne Ortega Pacheco

Former Yucatan Gov. Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, possible presidential candidate.

On November 4th, 2014, The Yucatan Times published a note regarding the Mayan Palace Project (Palacio Maya), which was conceived during the administration of former Governor of Yucatan, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, as the first part of a “Yucatecan Disneyland” in the land of the Maya, but the project was left abandoned, rotting in the middle of nowhere since the year 2012.

But now, in 2015, we find that there are three botched construction projects in the state of Yucatán, that have cost taxpayers 700 million pesos (US $42 million) despite not having been completed, leaving angry residents waiting for years for two major hospitals and the “Disneyland-style” theme park intended to celebrate ancient Mayan culture.


Tekax General Hospital

In the latest of a series on such projects, Mexico City based newspaper “El Universal” reports that planning for the General Hospital of Tekax, in the south of the state, began 10 years ago and construction followed in 2006.

So far, more than 100 million pesos (US $6 million) have been sunk into its construction. But the hospital was abandoned partly because of a political feud between ex-governors Patricio Patrón Laviada of the centre-right National Action Party (PAN) and Ivonne Ortega Pacheco of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

When the Patrón Laviada government left office in 2007 it insisted there was enough money to continue the work, and has since accused the succeeding Ortega state goverment of misusing the funds. In response, the PRI claimed that the work had been “badly planned and contained defects,” leading then president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s administration to withhold the funding needed to finish construction.

There was some good news for residents last week though; when current governor, Rolando Zapata Bello, said work would resume soon and the hospital would open in 2016.

Tekax General Hospital abandoned project (Photo:

Ticul General Hospital

Down in Ticul, in the south of the state, people are still waiting to hear whether their hospital – whose construction began in 2012 but had to stop for lack of funding – will become a reality or not. The 90-bed clinic is expected to cost 173 million pesos (US$10 million) and the government has said that work will resume.

However, litigation is under way against the company hired to build it for missing deadlines, which could see the contract rescinded and mean yet more delays.

Residents have protested against the stoppage. One of them, Elóida María Uicab Pérez, related how her community had spent years hoping a hospital would be built, saving people having to travel long distances for medical treatment. “We still don’t know who to believe, because they always say yes – but the reality is we are not seeing much progress,” she said.

Ticul General Hospital abandoned project (Photo:

Yaxcabá’s Mayan Disneyland

And in Yaxcabá, the 13,000-square-meter Palace of Mayan Civilization could well become modern-day ruins as the structure remains unfinished, its precinct dotted with puddles and weeds. Its first stone was placed in December 2009 during Ivonne Ortega Pacheco administration, with a completion date set for 2014.

Originally conceived as some kind of Mayan Disneyland, the work was totally abandoned in the year 2012 when Ivonne Ortega Pacheco left office. Despite talk of an advance of more than half the total cost of 450 million pesos being made last year, little or no progress has actually taken place on the project, located 11.5 kilometers from the pre-Columbian city and archaeological site of Chichén Itzá.

The firm originally contracted to build the park has left the abandoned site in the hands of the state’s Cultural and Tourist Services (Cultur), whose head Enrique Magadán Villamil has said he will not let it become a “white elephant.”

He said Fonatur, the National Fund for Tourism Development, would take up the work on the abandoned Mayan Palace and is investigating how much it will cost.

Former governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco was recently in the Jet Set spotlight, as she announced the grand opening of her brand new luxury Yucatecan food restaurant in uptown Mexico City.

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