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The Roadworkers Monument (Monumento al Caminero) is a group of sculptures placed at the intersection where Insurgentes Sur and the Tlalpan Viaduct converge to form the Cuernavaca highway in Tlalpan. A major interchange, it may seem to newcomers to Mexico City that every place in the south of the city is understood in relation to its distance to or from the “exit to Cuernavaca.” Very few people have ever discovered which exit that may be.
The monument depicts three men holding a jackhammer, a surveyor’s tripod, and a book of plans. All are carved in light brown quarried stone. The monument was created by the sculptor Ramiro Gaviño with help from carvers, David and Joaquín Gutiérrez. The Gutiérrez brothers, from the east end of Mexico City in Chimalhuacan, are known to have carved a number of the great and curious monuments you’ll see along the nation’s highways. The monument was officially dedicated on October 17, 1956, the 31st anniversary of the formation of the Mexican National Road Commission. In fact, the date was chosen for a 1533 Royal Decree that called for the building of roads across New Spain.
Anyone who’s spent time on Mexican highways can see that a lot of time, expense, and people-power went into building them. Much of the modern economy depends on their continual maintenance and usability.
As socialist monuments in Mexico City go, the Roadworkers Monument has proven more popular than many others. Though the position within the thoroughfare doesn’t make it easy or attractive to visit, it’s a respected and quotidian part of the life of the city. And not just for those motoring past.