Entertainment

One Of Mexico’s Biggest Beer Brands Is In Hot Water After Using Guillermo Del Toro’s Art Work Without His Permission

Artists often take inspiration from the works of other artists. This happens across all forms of art, from playwriting to musical composition to poetry. It certainly happens in the visual arts as well, where artists will make references or even directly incorporate aspects of another artist’s work into their own. But reproducing and selling an artist’s works without his or her explicit consent, consists of copyright infringement. That’s kind of what Cerveza Victoria is looking at, after their ‘limited edition’ Guillermo del Toro beer collection dropped — without Del Toro’s approval. 

On today’s case of “Who approved this?,” Grupo Modelo —the large Mexican brewery that exports beers we all know and love, such as Corona, Modelo, Pacifico and Victoria— managed to anger one of the most beloved Mexicans in the world: Guillermo del Toro.

Cerveza Victoria, recently announced a beer can collection featuring three specially designed cans featuring the director’s face, and two of his iconic monsters; one from his acclaimed film “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the other from his Oscar winning picture “The Shape of Water.”

The cans, designed by illustrator Guy Davis, were to be sold in convenience stores in Mexico City, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán and México state.

Here’s where things turn sour. Guillermo del Toro called out Victoria, and Grupo Modelo, for using his image and those of his characters, without his permission.

‘The Shape of Water’ director tweeted at Cerveza Victoria on Thursday, and urged the company to donate all the profits raised from the sales of the beer collection to young students competing in math and robotics competitions. “Very poorly done, @VictoriaMX. These cans do not have my authorization, my consultation or my signature to use my image or my name . . .” he tweeted in Spanish.

But why, oh why, would a huge company such as Cerveza Victoria, follow through with such a massive marketing strategy like this without even asking the artist himself for his consent?

As it turns out, Victoria beer was one of the sponsors of Del Toro’s “At Home with my Monsters,” exhibition in Guadalajara, Mexico. The exhibit featured over 900 objects the Oscar-winning director used in the making of his films, such as costumes, notebooks, drawings and personal objects.

The exposition was on display at the University of Guadalajara Art Museum (MUSA) from June 1 to November 3 of this year, and we believe that perhaps this fact granted the beer maker, the liberties to run a whole collection of limited edition cans with the artist’s face and work emblazoned all over them — without expressly asking for his take on it, much less his permission.

The beer maker took to Twitter to “apologize”.

Victoria, by Grupo Modelo, tried and failed to contain this crisis by tweeting that “they would never take liberties with something like this,” when in fact, they did — smh. The company, however, did apologize and admitted to making a mistake:

“We would never take liberties with something like this, @RealGDT. We are reviewing where the wires got crossed. Apart from this, we will continue to support Mexican talent as we have done up to now,” tweeted the company.

But in another twist of events, the very next day, Victoria deleted all tweets, images and every single trace of the ‘Guillermo del Toro’ campaign from the company’s social media — including the half-assed apology tweet.

On Thursday of the same week, Del Toro tweeted out that things had been patched up between himself and the beer maker.

At the end of last week, the director announced that the beer company’s faux pas was a thing of the past, and that the two managed to find a solution: “The misunderstanding has been fixed in good will. The cans with my signature will be substituted by a new graphic project (with no profit for me) and the proceeds will be going to @CDMXOMM and @SOMEXICO_ Thank you,” he tweeted in Spanish.

The organizations mentioned in the critically acclaimed director’s tweet, work for causes he continually supports.

@CDMXOMM is Mexico City’s math olympics, an academic program that helps students and young people develop their creative math skills. @SOMexico_ or Special Olympics Mexico, is an organization that offers sports training and support for intellectually disabled athletes.

Del Toro has supported these causes in the past and continues to champion children’s academic needs.

When he’s not directing award-winning films or being celebrated at award shows, the director works closely with organizations, supporting students’ ambitions in math, animation and now, sports. Only this year, he offered a full scholarship to young Deborah Balboa for a Masters in Arts and Animation at the best university in Paris, France. Also this year, in March, he helped two students attend university to study film thanks to the Jenkins-Del Toro scholarship. He also paid for two students to attend a math world tournament in England, from his own pocket.

A Toxi-Tour Will Take Activists To Seven States In Mexico That Host The Country’s Most Polluted Spots

Things That Matter

A Toxi-Tour Will Take Activists To Seven States In Mexico That Host The Country’s Most Polluted Spots

ChilangoMX / Instagram

Like most countries that depend heavily on coal energy and on manufacturing to keep its productive wheels running, Mexico is deeply affected by the environmental damage that many industries cause. Added to local production, Mexico has also been the site of maquilas, factories set up by foreign investors who are lured by cheaper labour and by lax tax regimes, as well as by looser rules when it comes to environmental impact. Both industry and public opinion need to be better informed of the toxic hot spots in the country.

Mexico sits at an strategic political and commercial position, and industrial powerhouses such as the United States and Canada, whose companies have set shop in the other member of NAFTA, by far the most disadvantaged. 

The toxi-tour caravan will travel the country for ten days in total, December 2-11.

Participants include environmentalists and scientists from both Mexico and overseas. The objective is to raise awareness and to denounce the companies that cause most damage. Perhaps shaming is the first step towards change. Besides Mexicans, there are representatives from the United States, Europe and other Latin American Countries. 

The journey began in El Salto, Jalisco, where a polluted river has led to cancer and death.

Credit: Regeneración radio

In this site industrial pollution of the Santiago river has caused the death of more than a thousand people due to cancer and kidney failure. People from cities in the United States affected by pollution in places like Flint, Michigan, can surely relate. A river is generally a propeller for economic development and productive activity, as well as a source of an increasingly scarce commodity: water. However, this river is basically poisonous now and has brought death to those who live nearby. 

The caravan will visit sites were more than three million people have seen their health diminished by pollution.

Credit: Notimex

The rest of the Toxi-tour stops include Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato; Apaxco, México state; Atonilco de Tula, Hidalgo; Tlaxcala; Puebla; and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. The journey will conclude in Mexico City on December 11. As you may lmow, Mexico City is deeply affected by high levels of pollution. Its high altitude and the fact that it is nested in a valley make it prone to elevated pollution levels that have damaged the upper respiratory tract in millions of its inhabitants.

In the photo we can see the cement manufacturing plant of Apaxco, which releases fine particles that have caused upper respiratory tract issues for both the workers and the people living near the factory. Imagine breathing grainy, minuscule cement dust day in, day out. Another big issue is the unlawful disposal of waste in landfills which end up pumping chemicals into the soil and rendering it sterile. 

The organizers have a pretty clear idea of who is to blame for the environmental crisis in these places.

As Mexico Daily News reports: “The Toxi-Tour will “denounce United States, Canadian, German, French, Spanish and Mexican companies” that cause environmental damage, said Andrés Barreda, a representative of the National Assembly of Environmental Victims, which organized the caravan.”

Yes, Mexican companies share the blame, but the fact that Global North companies have caused physical damage to the land and people of a previously colonized nation brings back memories of colonial times and trauma. So for these companies the lives of Global South countries are less valuable? It would appear that is the case. This is afforded of course, by corrupt authorities. The caravan will also get political and will engage local community leaders and people that have been affected or displaced by industry.

As Mexico News Daily reports: “In Tlaxcala on Friday, caravan members will learn about the community proposal to clean up the Atoyac–Zahuapan river basin, while on Saturday they will visit contaminated areas of Puebla city and speak with locals who have been dispossessed of their communal lands.”

Mexican history is a history of dispossession, and environmental violence is another way in which those in power have decimated the productive capabilities and future survival of communities that live and die by a deep attachment to the land and nature. 

Schools In Mexico’s Yucatan Have Made Mayan Language Classes A Requirement And Here’s Why That Matters

Culture

Schools In Mexico’s Yucatan Have Made Mayan Language Classes A Requirement And Here’s Why That Matters

Child-Aid.org

Sometimes there are big, big steps towards inclusivity in Latin America, a region that is still defined by colonial structures in which the indigenous is frowned upon and often looked down at. Indigenous languages, for example, are always at a clear and present danger of becoming extinct due to the imposition of Spanish (or Castillian, as people who speak other languages in then  Iberian Peninsula call it) as the main language and often the only way to be part of the productive force. However, the southern state of Yucatan is taking a big step towards acknowledgement of the original owners of a land that was never ceded. 

Schools in Yucatan have taken an important step towards real cultural inclusion and diversity.

The State Congress of Yucatan has just made it mandatory to have Mayan language instruction in primary and secondary schools. This is a great step towards true inclusivity in a state that has long benefited from Mayan culture when it comes to tourism and areas such as culinary tradition and art. According to census data, more than 570,000 people in Yucatan speak Mayan, so areas of the state are actually fully bilingual.

The census authority in Mexico has pointed out that the prevalence of Spanish has affected the numbers of people speaking Mayan. “Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the percentage of people that speak Mayan in the state has been decreasing constantly and drastically in recent years,” the agency INEGI warned, as reported by Mexico Daily News.

Change will not come quick, however, as reported by the same outlet: “One reason for going slowly might be a shortage of teachers. Education authorities said in September there was a shortage of bilingual — Spanish and Mayan — teachers. The state said it would attempt to remedy the situation by introducing a “seed group” of 20 primary-level bilingual teachers who would pass their skills on to at least another 40 teachers in a process that would fan out and prepare more teachers to help meet Mayan instruction goals”. 

Mestizo Mexicans have a contradictory relationship to the country’s rich indigenous past.

There is no denying that there is a systematic and everyday racism in Mexican society. From government programs that inadvertently look down on indigenous Mexicans to the actual word of “indio” being used as an insult in everyday vernacular, there are manifestations of this type of discrimination on a constant basis and oftentimes people are not often aware.

This is no doubt part of the colonial heritage in Mexico, particularly when we consider that there was actually a caste system in place with Europeans at the top and indigenous people at the bottom. This discrimination is alive and well, and can be seen in different facets of Mexican society.

At the same time, however, institutionally ancient civilizations, particularly the Maya and the Aztec, are seen as the foundation of the country and a source of pride. The history of these groups is taught in schools and when Mexicans travel abroad usually the first thing they brag about is the glorious indigenous past and how the Spanish destroyed it all. There is a sense of nationalism emanating from the past glory of these civilizations. Sadly, this doesn’t always translate into how indigenous communities are treated. That is why including Maya in the curriculum is a BFD! 

The Maya were amazing scientists, poets and overall a very advanced civilizations compared to their European counterparts at the time.

The Maya civilization was not only advanced in the material aspects of life such as irrigation and construction, but they also reached a very sophisticated level of conceptualization. For example, their number system included the zero, a feat that might seem very simple and almost banal, but that requires a high level of abstraction and a very high level of mathematical intelligence. They also had a deep understanding of astronomy and the ways in which the stars and the Earth’s rotation affect crops and daily life. Hey, maybe we can learn something from them in these times of climate change crisis.