JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – The desert sun and wind haven’t been kind to one of Juarez’s most distinctive man-made features. The paint has dulled and is beginning to fade on the gigantic red “X” just south of the Bridge of the Americas.

That’s why the city and private donors are investing half a million dollars in renovations that include sealing cracks and applying four new coats of paint to “La Equis” on the Juarez Fairgrounds. Work began last week with repairs and the application of white primer. It will last at least three months, Juarez officials said.

White primer has been applied to “La Equis,” Juarez’s iconic 202-foot-tall sculpture just south of the Bridge of the Americas that connects the city to El Paso, Texas. Four new coats of red paint will be applied to the giant “X” in weeks to come. (photo courtesy City of Juarez)

“The ‘X’ has become an icon, a symbol that represents Juarez to the rest of the world. We want to restore its shine, its beauty,” said former Mexican consul Juan Acereto, who’s now Mayor Armando Cabada’s representative in El Paso.

Anyone who drives on Interstate 10 in Central El Paso can clearly see the 62-meter tall (202 feet) structure across the border. The sculpture inaugurated in 2013 stands as the backdrop of concerts held at the fair’s amphitheater in Juarez.

The meaning of the “X” has always puzzled visitors. Acereto said it has several meanings, all related to the Mexican identity.

“It is the ‘x’ in Mexico, it is the crossing of Spanish and Indian blood, it stands on the Chamizal, a national symbol because it’s land Mexico recovered from the United States,” he said. The two circles at the “waist” of the X represent the jaguar claws at the center of the Aztec Calendar Stone, another Mexican icon.

Chihuahua state sculptor Sebastian designed the monument and, prior to its inauguration, told Mexican media that the letter X has a special meaning for Juarez. That’s because the city’s namesake, former Mexican President Benito Juarez, officially changed “Mejico” to “Mexico” in 1857. The name stems from the native American Nahuatl language but the Spaniards who conquered Mexico always used a “J,” he said.

“It’s about recovering our symbols, our identity. Now we include the ‘X’ whenever we do presentations or put out videos about the city of Juarez,” Acereto said.

He added that, at the urging of Sebastian, the mayor began setting aside funds and encouraging prominent individuals to contribute to the repairs.

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