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Bryant Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, October 12, 2004

FIRST MEXICAN COMMEMORATIVE MONUMENT DEDICATED IN NEW YORK CITY


On Saturday, October 9, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Governor José Murat of the State of Oaxaca unveiled a commemorative statue of Benito Juárez at Bryant Park in Manhattan. Benito Juárez, the Mexican independence leader and president, is revered worldwide for his advocacy for human rights. A gift from the Mexican State of Oaxaca to the City of New York, this statue, crafted by renowned Mexican sculptor Moises Cabrera Orozco, is the first Mexican figure to be placed in the City. Arturo Sarukhan, Consul General of Mexico, Pedro Matar, Director of Mexico Trade, César Aguirre, President of the Oaxaca Northeast Federation, and Moises Cabrera were among those present at the unveiling ceremony.

"Thanks to the hard work of the State of Oaxaca, the Mexican Trade Center, the Mexican Consulate, the Bryant Part Restoration Corporation, and Benito Juárez’s many admirers in New York City, we found him this spot on Avenue of Americas, in the historic Bryant Park," said Commissioner Benepe. "Juárez was very important to the history of Mexico, but his influence also extended well beyond the borders of his nation. He commands the international reverence that is reserved for figures like Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela."

"Who better to honor than our great political teacher, Benito Juárez," said Matar. "Juárez is recognized not only in Mexico, but all over the world for his fight for human rights. For the Mexican community, it is very special to have a statue of one of our own in the greatest city in the world."

The sculpture is sponsored by the State of Oaxaca on behalf of the Mexican Government with additional support from the Mexican Trade Center. It stands along Avenue of the Americas between 41st and 42nd Streets, on the perimeter of Bryant Park, in a symmetrical position to the existing sculpture of José Bonidacio de Andrada e Silva, the Brazilian leader, between 40th and 41st Streets. The sponsors will provide funds for the ongoing care of the sculpture in cooperation with Parks & Recreation and the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation.

Revered as one of their greatest political leaders, Benito Juárez (1806-1872) proclaimed the "Reforma Laws" and established the foundation for the Mexican Republic, thereby preserving the independence of México. Juárez, born of humble origins in Guelatao, Oaxaca, is known as "Benemérito de las Americas". A lawyer, he was governor of Oaxaca from 1847 to 1852. He served as president of México from 1861 to 1863 and again from 1867 to 1872. Juárez was also the first president of indigenous descent.

With the addition of Benito Juárez, a pantheon of seven sculptures of Latin American leaders now overlooks the Avenue of the Americas. A sculpture of Uruguayan independence leader and national hero General José Artigas (1764-1850) stands in Soho Square; of Juan Pablo Duarte (1813-1876), considered the Father of the Dominican Republic, at Canal Street; and of Brazilian independence leader José Bonidacio de Andrada e Silva (1763-1838) in Bryant Park at 41st Street. Located on the Avenue at Central Park South are statues of the Cuban patriot, journalist, and poet, José Martí (1853-1895), Argentine General José de San Martín (1778-1850), and South American liberator Simón Bolívar (1783-1830).

The sculptor, Moises Cabrera Orozco, was born in Juchitán, Oaxaca, in 1936. In 1958 he entered La Esmeralda National School of Painting and Sculpture; he completed his studies at the San Carlos Academy from 1867 through 1970, under the guidance of such masters as Francisco Zúñiga, Juan Osorio and Alberto de la Vega. Cabrera founded and directed the National School of Art in Mexico City and has represented Mexico at several international contests in Denver, Colorado, Sidney, Australia, Piamonte, Italy, and Quebec, Canada. Among Cabrera’s famous works in Mexico are the Monument to the September Heroes, the Monument to the Mexican Soldier, the Seven Arms Chandelier, and the Catus Sculpture. In recent years, he has done monumental pieces Japan, Italy, Cuba, Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"A word is dead / When it is said, / Some say. /
I say it just / Begins to live / That day."

Emily Dickinson
(1830-1886)

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