The contributions that Mexicans and the rest of the Hispanic community have made to the development of what today is Texas will form part of the Texas Tejano Monument under construction on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin.

The 10 statues that make up the monument have been cast in bronze, mounted on marble, and portray a variety of figures including a Spanish explorer, a cowboy on horseback and a Texan couple with their baby.

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According to architect Jaime Beaman who is directing the work, the statues will represent the true history of Texas and show that Spaniards predated Anglos in the region.

"The proof is in the language - the cities and streets of almost the entire state have Spanish names. And of the 18 permanent exhibitions in the Texas Capitol, none dates to before 1836," he said, referring to the date marking the beginning of independence from Mexico.

Beaman along with a handful of Texans of Mexican origin have been promoting for more than 10 years the creation of the Texas Tejano Monument, a project that was approved by the state legislature in 2001.

Through Tejano Monument, Inc., they have collected more than $1 million to combine with another $1 million in state funds.

One of those directly managing the collection of funds has been Renato Ramirez, banker and resident of the border city of Laredo.

According to Ramirez, the job of getting the monument started was not easy and many objections had to be overcome from politicians and conservative activists who were not in favor of the project.

"All we wanted to achieve was acknowledgment for what Hispanics did in the original founding of what is today Texas. Hispanics and especially Mexicans form part of the culture and history of the state and that should be made known," he said.

Ramirez also said that historians define Texans as Hispanics from Mexico who settled what is today Texas as a province of New Spain, and their direct descendents who remained here.

"But this is not just about the history of Mexicans and Texans, but of all Hispanics who have helped improve the land that today is this state. To see the completion of this project that has been in the works for more than 10 years shows we can do great things," the sculptor Armando Hinojosa, creator of the monument's figures, said.

"For those of us who have worked hard on it, the reward will be that one of our works, the most important of our lives and to which we applied all our determination, will stand throughout the years," he said.

According to Austin tourism authorities, more than 1 million people visit the Capitol every year.

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