For altering the federal zone of Lake Chapala without proper authorization from the National Water Commission (Conagua), the Chapala government is facing a steep fine and the possible demolition of the Jesús Pescador statue and unfinished bridge linking the waterfront Malecón to the artificial island where the towering religious figure stands.
The fine of approximately 1.5 million pesos is being imposed by the Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT), the federal government’s tax department, according to Chapala’s chief legal officer Isaac Trejo.
The boondoggle originated with the construction of the rocky outcropping on the east side of the Chapala pier and erection of a five-meter-tall bronze image of Jesus Fisherman, carried out under the 2007-2009 administration of Gerardo Degollado González. His brother, Javier Degollado González, cooked up the bridge project after taking office as mayor in 2015. Work has continued and now nears completion under the current government.
Neither of the projects has been formally approved by Conagua, the federal agency responsible for regulating national waters and contiguous lands. Ironically, the Jalisco government contributed significant funding for the works, apparently without requiring proof of Conagua’s consent.
Interviewed this week, Javier Degollado acknowledged that he allowed work on the pedestrian bridge to continue after Conagua inspectors ordered suspension of the project in October 2016 due to modifications of the original design, as authorized by a provisional verbal agreement with agency officials in Guadalajara.
“If we had waited for the permit, we could not have finished the initial phase on time to avoid losing state money,” Degollado said.
The former mayor, now serving as a city councilor, indicated that it is unlikely that the statue and its collateral projects will ever be torn down because they are important areas of public use. He cited the similar situation of the Malecón in San Antonio Tlayacapan that is also subject to a Conagua demolition order issued in 2013, later ratified by the nation’s Supreme Court. The project was eventually completed without further Conagua intervention, remaining intact to this day.