Although the current generations do not know it, the Manzanillans of more than forty years ago know very well what the Breakwater meant in their lives.
This area of port fortification included in the contract of works of the Port, celebrated between the federal government represented by Mr. Francisco Z. Mena and by Mr. Pablo Martínez del Río, on behalf of the American contractor Edgar K. Smooth and which was signed in 1899, was formally called Paseo Independencia and also formally inaugurated by President Porfirio Díaz on December 12, 1908
It was built for port defense purposes and required such a high investment that the oral tradition – not proven – ensures that General Diaz told the American Colonel Edgar K. Smoot, builder of the works of the port, that “if weights and tostones had been accommodated to build it, it would had been cheaper “, something that has arisen from the usual exaggeration of the Mexicans, because it has never been confirmed that the first magistrate uttered those words, nor were they consigned in the midst of any communication, and it is clear that several journalists came to the “lambeada”, as the ranchers say.
The truth is that this magnificent work of port infrastructure began in the late 1900 and was completed with severe economic difficulties and a serious delay, until 1916. Originally it measured 436 meters long and was seven and a half wide. Many chroniclers and witnesses claim that there was a plaque that was placed in its first meters and that disappeared over the years and in which it read “Paseo Independencia. 1916. “ To build it, millions of cubic meters of stone were brought from the Hacienda de El Colomo, which was then owned by Don Ponciano Ruiz, who was the first president of the City Council. From its structure, the docks for the oil tankers were “tied up” or adhered, but for a long time it was only a stroll that went to enjoy the beautiful sunsets, or to swim in the La Bocanita Beach, behind the Breakwater and behind also of what are now the installations of the Mexican Navy.
Undoubtedly it was the busiest walk of Manzanillo in the twentieth century. Even, more than the municipal garden. On its platform an unforgivable audacity was committed, but it was appreciated by locals and foreigners: the construction of terraces was authorized, which ended up being cantinas in which scandals were forged and confrontations took place and became centers of prostitution and vice , although, it is fair to say, in a place of healthy family fun sometimes. In them, in the same way, they would dance, share together, to see or drink in an atmosphere of camaraderie. Don Lázaro Carreón Ordeñana, a Central American living here, established a terrace with such success that allowed him to build with the profits a superb building: the Foreign Club – today Casa del Marino – which has withstood the onslaught of time and which was in its time the best of the city, making his restaurant known in such a way that he provided services to politicians, businessmen and most influential people of the State.
Said the above, it will be possible to understand why to the locals, immediately became the most popular coexistence site of the port and gave it an early fame of the best of Manzanillo. It was so popular that the vulgar baptized it – in frank reference to the amorous escapades of many couples – as the “pot-breaker”. However, the fire of the ship Mary Ellen Conway, that was docked in the pier of Petróleos Mexicanos, in 1972 and that was attributed to the carelessness of a visitor of the Brealwater, determined, that years later, as governor Doña Griselda Álvarez to close it to the public.
The municipal president José Luis Navarrete managed to rescue it and for that he remodeled and embellished, but after a few months, inexplicably it was closed again and continues to be kidnapped by the parastatal authorities.
The Breakwater filled an entire era of Manzanillo yesterday.
In my book Estampas Porteñas, I included the sonnet “The Breakwater” that I wrote to remember its old glories. Says so:
To stop the raging sea
To catch the threatening water
They made you and now you keep lurking
More than a century already built.
Work of Don Porfirio in oblivion
that you were the walker’s rejoicing;
Retaining wall so captivating
to the romantic memory attached.
In port defense you were planned
and you surrendered to the porteña fiesta.
To your terraces went and danced
to the rhythm of the “ensemble” and the orchestra
generations that fell in love
between the waves that its charm lends
shapes, serene as Zen meditation. There is no doubt that Las Hadas´ exterior spaces are unique because they convey serenity, harmony and peace.
Las Hadas marked a “before and after” of Manzanillo´s Port, and the professional life of architect José Luis Ezquerra. It remains a proud icon of Manzanillo.