A tale of a traffic circle
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
The removal of the statues of the heroes from the glorieta (traffic circle) on the road to Querétaro was quite a controversial issue in San Miguel during the 2009–2012 administration. Their removal was followed by the installation of a column topped with a likeness of Allende’s head, which was also subsequently relocated to make way for a new sculpture that was never executed. Finally, on Monday October 9, the new Glorieta de los Conspiradores (Conspirators’ Traffic Circle) was inaugurated.
On January 21, 2006, San Miguel’s mayor, Luis Alberto Villarreal García, inaugurated the Glorieta de los Héroes to honor the 237th anniversary of Ignacio Allende’s birth. At the center of the glorieta was a statue of Saint Michael the Archangel defeating the devil, and surrounding him were four statues of heroes of Mexican Independence: Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, Miguel Hidalgo and Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez (La Corregidora). The statues were donated by the government of Querétaro.
In September 2010, the life-sized statues were removed from the traffic circle. According to Luz María Núñez, then mayor of the city, the archangel surrounded by the heroes was a controversial topic in the city, because the sculptures were of disproportionate scale for the monument. Recently, Núñez commented that she had a talk with federal legislator Luis Alberto Villarreal, who agreed that the statues were completely disproportionate in comparison with the columns. In that year, the local government authorized the construction of a steel column supporting a sculpture of Allende’s head.
Núñez accepted that the installation of that column was an error of her administration. “We made a terrible mistake. It was an error because I do not know about proportions, and when we made the proposals the artist should have told me that the size was not going to be right. It was not until the day we installed it that we found out that it was not going to work,” commented Lucy. The installation of the column was even more controversial than the former statues, but the city council approved it. “We constructed it, but when we saw it we realized that the size was not right, and for that reason it was rejected by the population and even by me, so we decided to remove it,” commented Núñez.
Later in 2011, when the column with Allende´s head was removed, PAN city councilors suggested that undergraduates from the Universidad de León shold present some proposals, which Mayor Núñez agreed to; however, when she got the financial resources, she rejected those projects. “The projects were good,” she said. “The city councilors liked them, but they all were the same head that architects and town planners had said before was not right because it was very small.” Then, the municipality called for a national and international contest for projects for the traffic circle, and the winning entry, called “Los Guardianes” (comprised of three monolithic stones), was selected by experts from the INAH and UNAM, among other institutions. The creators of the project, from Mexico City, received 50,000 pesos as a prize.
When mayor Núñez obtained the resources for constructing “ Los Guardianes,” the city councilors did not approve it and proposed the public be consulted, so the citizens could decide on the project to be constructed. However, the public consultation was never held, and the city council decided that the project to build should be the one that took second place in the contest. It consists of a wall that welcomes visitors to the city and a statue of Allende approximately six meters high. The wall bears the names of the 60 sanmiguelenses who conspired to gain independence from Spain (The Villa of San Miguel el Grande had the largest number of conspirators during the independence movement). When visitors leave the city, they can read on the wall “San Miguel de Allende, World Heritage City.”
Where are the heroes of the Glorieta de los Héroes?
The sculptures of the four independence heroes and Saint Michael were distributed around the municipality. The likeness of Miguel Hidalgo was painted and put up in Atotonilco; San Miguel Arcángel, also painted, was moved to Calzada de la Estación. The statue of Ignacio Allende can be found in Colonia Santa Julia, and that of La Corregidora, also painted, was moved to Parque Bicentenario, on the road to Doctor Mora. The likeness of Juan Aldama presides over the garden at San Juan de Dios. The likeness of Allende’s head, minus the column, was placed under the Puente Bicentenario.