Tuesday, November 28, 2023

House built by Hernán Cortés for La Malinche is on verge of collapse

A 16th-century Mexico City home that Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés built for La Malinche, his indigenous interpreter, advisor and lover, will be saved from collapse.

Located in the neighborhood of Coyoacán, La Casa de la Malinche was built between 1521 and 1522 on the orders of Cortés, who lived there with his companion while a new city was being built on the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital.

Almost five centuries later, the adobe home is showing its age. It was also damaged in the powerful September 2017 earthquake that rattled central Mexico, and smaller subsequent quakes.

Current owner Rina Lazo, a renowned painter, opened the doors of her home to the newspaper Milenio to point out the damage sustained.

In a room formerly used as a studio by Lazo’s deceased husband, painter and print maker Arturo García Bustos, an enormous crack extends across one wall from ceiling to floor, Milenio said.

Lazo’s daughter, architect Rina García Lazo, explained that the constant passing of trucks transporting beer and soft drinks has caused the crack to increase in size.

Lazo’s bedroom also sustained quake damage, after which she decided to sleep at the other end of the home because she considers it slightly safer.

But despite the structural problems, all is not lost: the home is one of 279 historically significant buildings that will receive funding for restoration via the National Reconstruction Program.

Just under 3.3 million pesos (US $173,000) will be allocated to La Casa de la Malinche.

“Fortunately, that money will save this house because it’s continuing to sink,” Lazo said.

“Anyone who passes by on the sidewalk on the side of the garden can see the slope . . .” the 95-year-old artist added.

Arturo Balandrano, head of the cultural heritage department in the Secretariat of Culture, which is responsible for the reconstruction program, told Milenio that the home is part of an area where the original Spanish settlement was established in Coyoacán.

He explained that the “building was seriously affected because in that area, the soil has little resistance,” adding that its foundations need to be strengthened.

Balandrano said that the government will pay to fix the foundations but Lazo and her family will cover other repairs.

“. . . We’re all collaborating to maintain this heritage that is not just of the family [but also] of the residents of Coyoacán and all Mexicans,” he said.

Cortés and La Malinche – a Nahua woman who had a child with the conquistador and whose association with the Spanish led to her being labeled a traitor – and the two acclaimed artists are not the only luminaries to have lived in the Coyoacán home.

Lazo said that she and her husband bought the house from José Vasconcelos, a lawyer, philosopher, writer and former secretary of public education who was dubbed the “cultural caudillo” of the Mexican Revolution.

The artist explained that she and her husband were students of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo respectively, who lived in Coyoacán, and wanted to be close to their teachers.

Lazo said that she and García took out a 10-year bank loan and covered the down payment with money they obtained through their artistic work.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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