Mexican Americans have deep roots in the Westside but no monument acknowledging their history or contributions to the community. A group of local residents intends on changing that.

The Venice Mexican American Traquero Monument Committee and the American Veterans Post 2, led by Venice resident Laura Ceballos and Santa Monica resident Frank Sr Juarez, received approval from the Venice Neighborhood Council on Dec. 15 to place a Mexican American monument at Windward Circle.

Renowned Mexican sculptor Jorge Marin created a design for the monument, which honors the traquero workers who built the Main Railroad Transportation System and the Pacific Electric Interurban System on the Westside.

The monument will be a bronze statue of a traquero on the railroad holding his daughters hand, with his son on his shoulders, and his wife by his side. The sculpture will be placed in a 15 foot water fountain surrounded by a brick layered Mexican Style pathway. To the right there will be an American Flag flying on a 25 foot pole with the Mexican flag beneath.

“We have reached a milestone. The Mexican and Mexican American Community have been marginalized, and this is an opportunity to reverse that discrimination by advancing this important historical education,” said Laura Ceballos.

The group still has a ways to go before their monument is installed, including gaining approval from the L.A. City Council. However, they are confident that their work and the endorsements from prominent community leaders—including Senator Ben Allen, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, Council Member Mike Bonin, and Representative Ted Lieu—have paved the way for the project to move ahead.

“We have a long history here and it’s not recognized currently. Our history is being erased with all this gentrification that’s taking place on the Westside,” said Ceballos.

Long before Venice became known as Venice it was part of Mexico. The land was sold to California in an 1839 land grant from the Machado and Talamantes family. The grant transferred a 13,920 acre region known as Rancho La Ballona that encompassed present day Ocean Park, Pico neighborhood, Venice, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, Playa Vista, and Playa Del Rey.

The traquero railroad workers, who the monument is dedicated to, worked in this region during the 1870 to 1930s building critical transportation infrastructure for often very low wages.

“They contributed to a lot of things, not just the tracks across the nation I might add, but to the bricks that were made for the buildings here. Having a monument that at least points out the traqueros would be a plus for a very tired and downtrodden part of society here. Not a lot of accolades to go to the Mexican American community and we just came out of an administration where Mexicans were called rapists and criminals, so this approval is like a breath of fresh air” said Frank Sr Juarez.

Juarez’s family first came to Southern California to work in the brickyards in 1906. They relocated to the Santa Monica area in 1928 and have lived in the community ever since. Many fellow Mexican Americans, including his wife, have grandparents who worked as traqueros.

The Pacific Electric Railway was one of largest electric railways systems in the world and remains famous for its red railway carts. However, the traqueros who built this system and often lived in repurposed rail carts with their families, have received little historical attention.

“We’re not recognized on the Westside, so this would be the first monument honoring Mexican and Mexican Americans,” said Ceballos. “We are the backbone of the economy in the workforce, yet it’s not in our history books nor taught in our school, so I think this is a very important historical education.”

Ceballos is thankful to all the local schools including Amino Venice Charter High School, Santa Monica College, and UCLA who actively support the monument and the organization’s mission to provide a better education of the community’s history.

The Venice Mexican American Traquero Monument Committee has created a Go Fund Me fundraising campaign to help make the project possible. Those wishing to donate can do so at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/venice-mexican-american-traquero-monument

Clara@smdp.com