More than 1 billion pesos will be needed to save an 18th-century fortress in Veracruz that has fallen into disrepair since it ceased functioning as a state prison in 2007.

Located near the Puebla border in the municipality of Perote, the San Carlos Fortress requires extensive maintenance work, the newspaper Milenio reported after visiting the building.

Parts of the roof are collapsing because its wooden beams are rotting and the walls are in poor condition due to water damage.

Gilberto Castillo, a former mayor of Perote, said that estimates for the repair work exceed 1 billion pesos (US $52.3 million).

However, getting the money currently appears nigh on impossible: municipal, state and federal authorities have shown no interest in saving the historic building, which was opened to the public after its almost 60-year incarnation as a state prison ended 12 years ago.

The facility served for many years as a state prison.

“. . . It’s very concerning to see that something that is so important in the history of Mexico is falling apart,” said Martha Ágape, a tour guide at the fortress.

Construction of the San Carlos Fortress, also known as the Perote Castle, concluded in 1777.

The fort was built on the orders of Joaquín de Montserrat, viceroy of New Spain between 1760 and 1766, to provide protection in case of a foreign invasion and the fall of the Castle of San Juan de Ulúa, a large complex of fortresses located 160 kilometers southeast of San Carlos in the port city of Veracruz.

During the War of Independence in the early 19th century, the San Carlos Fortress was used by Spanish troops as a hideout and shelter.

In 1823 – two years after Mexico won independence – the fort became the fledgling nation’s first military college, while in 1843, Mexico’s first president, Guadalupe Victoria, died in the building’s infirmary, according to fortress archives.

In 1847, during the Mexican-American War, United States forces captured the fortress and during World War II, Italian and German citizens were imprisoned at the facility.

Repairs have been estimated to cost 1 billion pesos or more.
Repairs have been estimated to cost 1 billion pesos or more.

The Perote Castle became a state prison in 1949 during the presidency of Miguel Alemán Valdés.

Plans have been floated to establish three museums at the site – two military ones and another focusing on the history of the almost 250-year-old building – but like the much-needed repair work, no one appears to be willing or able to provide the required funds.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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