Centro Comercial PRONAF, Matamoros, 1964, Arqs. Mario Pani y Hilario Galguera

The most publicized modern architecture built along the lower Río Grande in the 1960s was produced in conjunction with a Mexican government initiative, the Programa Nacional Fronterizo (National Border Program), known by its acronym PRONAF. Conceived by a former mayor of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Antonio Jáquez Bermúdez, who had also been director general of Petroleos Mexicanos, PRONAF was intended to reduce Mexico’s balance of trade deficit with the U.S. by improving the image of Mexican border cities, attracting more U.S. tourists, providing modern retail trade centers so that residents of Mexican border cities would buy consumer products on the Mexican side of the border, and stimulating employment with what became the maquiladora system by attracting foreign manufacturers to open plants where Mexican workers could assemble goods for re-export.

Pani and Galguera designed a sequence of steel-framed, concrete-roofed retail shops between Colonial Jardín and Matamoros’s zona centro in 1964 for Mexican businesses selling Mexican products to Mexican consumers.

Text and photo by Stephen Fox

As one can see, the building has gone through extreme changes to its facade.

Photo of PRONAF taken on February 2014.

Photo of PRONAF taken on February 2014 by Lupe Gonzales

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