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Planned new U.S. Embassy in Mexico a "fiasco" - CBS News

"Critics say new American embassies are getting more expensive.

Cost overruns in Afghanistan are over $150 million, and the new embassy in London could top $1 billion. Nearly a year ago, CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes showed us how glass for the London embassy had to be shipped back and forth across the Atlantic for framing. Now, Cordes reports from Washington on problems with an embassy in the works in Mexico.

It is an embassy that was supposed to cost $577 million to build, but the construction estimate has gone up by one third -- and the State Department hasn't even broken ground yet.

No one disputes that the current U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is crowded, outdated and needs to be replaced. So four years ago the State Department bought a 15 acre plot in a former industrial district for $120 million. But there was a catch: the site had housed a Colgate-Palmolive factory for decades, which left behind hazardous waste. Colgate has been cleaning the site but it's been three and a half years and it's still not ready for construction.

"It's a bit of a fiasco," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah."
 

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"No one disputes that the current U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is crowded, outdated and needs to be replaced. "

I kind of dispute it. We were there recently to renew a passport. Perhaps our timing was good but we didn't find it all that crowded. Perhaps the one room that had the cashier. We were the only people in the Social Security office and even asked the girl if she felt there were less people coming South from the US. She said no - we handle most stuff via email/phone these days.

I think it is another case where the folks in charge - the Ambassador and his staff - pushed for nicer digs. We used to see the same thing all the time in the US when they would close a perfectly good courthouse and build a new one simply because the judges wanted new offices.

Besides - I kind of like the current location.
 

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"No one disputes that the current U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is crowded, outdated and needs to be replaced. "

I kind of dispute it. We were there recently to renew a passport. Perhaps our timing was good but we didn't find it all that crowded. Perhaps the one room that had the cashier. We were the only people in the Social Security office and even asked the girl if she felt there were less people coming South from the US. She said no - we handle most stuff via email/phone these days.

I think it is another case where the folks in charge - the Ambassador and his staff - pushed for nicer digs. We used to see the same thing all the time in the US when they would close a perfectly good courthouse and build a new one simply because the judges wanted new offices.

Besides - I kind of like the current location.
I live a few blocks from the US Embassy in Mexico City. It's very convenient when I need to take care of business there, like next week when I will go there to renew my passport. But it's a bad location in another way. It's right on the route of the many demonstrations and marches that have been taking place more and more frequently in the DF. So no matter what the issue is, even it has absolutely no relation to US government policies and practices, the marchers and their (very) loudspeakers will park themselves in front of the Embassy and blare out anti-USA slogans and chants for a long time. I think that one reason the Embassy will be (eventually) moving to avoid these kinds of problems.
 

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I live a few blocks from the US Embassy in Mexico City. It's very convenient when I need to take care of business there, like next week when I will go there to renew my passport. But it's a bad location in another way. It's right on the route of the many demonstrations and marches that have been taking place more and more frequently in the DF. So no matter what the issue is, even it has absolutely no relation to US government policies and practices, the marchers and their (very) loudspeakers will park themselves in front of the Embassy and blare out anti-USA slogans and chants for a long time. I think that one reason the Embassy will be (eventually) moving to avoid these kinds of problems.
Good point. Do you happen to know the proposed new site ?
 

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Then perhaps my initial assessment isn't that far off :) Is there a more expensive place for them to put it ?
Probably not! I would guess that a lot of foreign Embassy employees live in Polanco, so having the building in that area will make getting to work more convenient for them.
 

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Planned new U.S. Embassy in Mexico a "fiasco" - CBS News

...But there was a catch: the site had housed a Colgate-Palmolive factory for decades, which left behind hazardous waste. Colgate has been cleaning the site but it's been three and a half years and it's still not ready for construction....
Jeez, how dirty can it be, aren't they the ones who make all the cleaning products? Add a little water, scrub a bit and yer done!
Just tryin' to help in the worst way.:D
 

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I live a few blocks from the US Embassy in Mexico City. It's very convenient when I need to take care of business there, like next week when I will go there to renew my passport. But it's a bad location in another way. It's right on the route of the many demonstrations and marches that have been taking place more and more frequently in the DF. So no matter what the issue is, even it has absolutely no relation to US government policies and practices, the marchers and their (very) loudspeakers will park themselves in front of the Embassy and blare out anti-USA slogans and chants for a long time. I think that one reason the Embassy will be (eventually) moving to avoid these kinds of problems.
Well, there's another prime reason the embassy must be moved. I think it's obvious. I'm sure the embassy employees have been very, very nervous working there for, oh, I'd say the last 14 years, if not the past 17 years.

And of course, the current ambassador has no self-interest in moving the embassy, nor did the one who approved the original move, and all will have moved on. Probably the Mexican nationals who will be working there for all of their careers are most anxious to move on to someplace well removed from any roads. [See U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam; See U.S. Embassy, Nairobi].
 

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The site of the new Embassy will be easy to reach using public transportation, or if driving. I worked as a consultant at Colgate-Palmolive, on that site, in the 1990s. It's across the street from the Mexican Mint. American nationals and military working in the current embassy are paid hazardous duty pay, largely because of its location on Paseo de la Reforma. The fact that Embassy's Worldwide have almost all experienced substantial cost over-runs is old news. Very old news.
 

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Hazardous duty pay? You've got to be kidding!
No, not kidding. The Embassy is considered one of the most insecurely-located of any of the U.S. Embassies. I'm recalling, also, that the reason U.S. personnel working at the Embassy who were once housed in apartments scattered about Colonias Cuauhtémoc, Anzures, Polanco, etc., were relocated to grouped secured housing. The reason for that was safety, also.
 

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I would think dispersed housing for Embassy staff would be safer than grouping them in one place.

(Honestly, you'd think the State Department was in charge of strategic planning as well as those alerts to travelers it sends out so often.)
 
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