Things That Matter

An 82-Year-Old Abuelo Finally Finished Elementary School And Learned How To Read

Leave it to an 82-year-old abuelo in the Mexican state of Oaxaca to show us all how to live our best lives. Despite being forced to choose work over school in order to help support his family, Timoteo Pacheco Rodríguez never gave up on his goal to go back to school – all the way back to elementary school – and get his diploma.

In Mexico, 3.6 million people do not know how to read and nearly half of those are adults over the age of 60. So Rodríguez is not alone. The country has so many stories similar to his and yet his story of hard work and determination is helping bring a bit of positivity into the lives of people all over the country.

Despite the pandemic, this 82-year-old man finished elementary school and learned how to read.

If there was ever an example of perseverance and determination, this man’s story is it. Despite a global pandemic, 82-year-old Timoteo Pacheco Rodríguez was awarded his diploma upon finishing his elementary school studies.

To make the celebration even more special, Rodríguez was granted his diploma on the International Day of the Elderly.

Rodríguez is originally from a small town in Oaxaca and didn’t have the access to regular studies as a child. He’s since spent his life in Oaxaca City and has dedicated his life to producing and growing coffee.

He explained that he found a good work/study balance, “I worked in the mornings and in the afternoons, did my homework, reviewed, studied the books they gave me and did my plans and my numbers,” he told Milenio.

He acknowledged that studying at his age is not easy, but with determination and hard work anything can be done. He also thanked his family for their support, adding that “They always supported me, in reviewing what I didn’t know,” especially one of his grandchildren who is also in school.

And Rodríguez isn’t done yet. He plans to continue his studies for as long as he can. If God gives me life, I will continue with my studies and finish high school,” he told Milenio.

Rodríguez is not alone – Mexico has made it a goal to help educate and improve literacy rates across the country.

Credit: Mexico Literacy Project

Mexico has made extreme progress in eradicating illiteracy from the country over the past 40 years. As recently as 1970, it was estimated that 26% of Mexicans couldn’t read or write. It was so serious that Mexico City’ Metro network was designed with illiteracy in mind.

However, as of the latest census (2005) it’s estimated that about 96.3% of Mexicans have the ability to read and write. However, there are still extreme variations in those numbers. For example, in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero – three states it’s the highest rates of poverty – the literacy rate hovers around 77% to 78.4% for those over 15.

As a result, the government created the National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) in 1981 to help adults and young people over the age of 15 complete their studies. In 2019 more than 411,000 Mexicans obtained a diploma or learned how to read through INEA programs. Of those, 215,817 finished high school, and 96,645 graduated from primary school. Since its inception, more than 14 million people have benefited from INEA programs. 

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Another International Brand Has Been Accused Of Copying Indigenous Mexican Designs


Another International Brand Has Been Accused Of Copying Indigenous Mexican Designs


Although it comes as no surprise, it’s still as frustrating as ever that an international fashion brand has ripped off traditional designs of Indigenous cultures. This time, it’s an Australian label that appears to have copied the designs of Mexico’s Mazatec community.

Although the company has already pulled the allegedly copied dress, the damage appears to have been done as many are rightfully outraged at their blatant plagiarism.

Australia’s Zimmermann brand has been accused of copying designs from Mexico’s Indigenous community.

Mazatec people from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have expressed their outrage over yet another attack on their traditions. They claim that an Australian company – Zimmermann – has copied a Mazatec huipil design to make its own tunic dress. The dress, which was part of the company’s 2021 Resort collection and retailed for USD $850, has since been pulled from the company’s website due to the criticism.

Zimmermann is an Australian fashion house that has stores across the U.S., England, France, and Italy. While the huipil is a loose-fitting tunic commonly worn by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women across Mexico.

It’s hard to argue that the brand didn’t deliberately copy the Oaxacan design.

Credit: Francoise CAVAZZANA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

When you look at the Zimmermann tunic dress alongside a traditional huipil, it’s hard not to see the resemblance. The cut of the Zimmermann dress, the birds and flowers embroidered on it and its colors all resemble a traditional Mazatec huipil. 

Changes made to the original design – the Zimmermann dress sits above the knees and unlike a huipil is not intended to be worn with pants or a skirt – are disrespectful of the Mazatac culture and world view.

The Oaxaca Institute of Crafts also condemned Zimmermann and called on the brand to clarify the origin of its design.

For their part, Zimmermann has pulled the dress and issued an apology.

Zimmermann subsequently issued a statement on social media, acknowledging that the tunic dress was inspired by huipiles from Oaxaca

“Zimmermann acknowledges that the paneled tunic dress from our current Swim collection was inspired by what we now understand to be a traditional garment from the Oaxaca region in Mexico,” it said.

“We apologize for the usage without appropriate credit to the cultural owners of this form of dress and for the offense this has caused. Although the error was unintentional, when it was brought to our attention today, the item was immediately withdrawn from all Zimmermann stores and our website. We have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again in future.”

However, it’s far from the first time that an international brand has profited off of Indigenous designs.

Unfortunately, international fashion companies ripping off traditional garments and designs – especially those of Indigenous cultures – is far too common. Several major companies have been accused of plagiarism within the last year.

In fact, the problem has become so widespread that Mexico created a government task force to help find and denounce similar plagiarism in the future. Among the other designers/brands that have been denounced for the practice are Isabel Marant, Carolina Herrera, Mango and Pippa Holt.

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The President Of Mexico Has Tested Positive For Covid-19 After A Year Of Downplaying The Virus

Things That Matter

The President Of Mexico Has Tested Positive For Covid-19 After A Year Of Downplaying The Virus

Hector Villas / Getty Images

Since the very beginning of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has largely downplayed the severity of the crisis. Despite record-setting deaths across Mexico, the president continued to hold large rallies, rarely uses face masks and continues to be very hands on with his supporters. Many of his detractors grouped him in with Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jaír Bolsonaro in his poor response to the pandemic.

Mexico’s President AMLO has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing light symptoms.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, AMLO revealed that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. From his official Twitter account, he said his symptoms were mild and that he was receiving medical treatment.

“I regret to inform you that I have contracted Covid-19. The symptoms are mild, but I am already receiving medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will move forward,” Lopez Obrador wrote.

Despite his diagnosis, the president plans to continue business as usual. He plans to continue with his duties from the Palacio Nacional, which include conducting a planned phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine Monday. He added on Twitter, that “I will be conducting all public affairs from the National Palace. For example, tomorrow I will take a call from President Vladimir Putin, because irrespective of friendly relationships, there is a possibility that they will send us the Sputnik V vaccine.”

AMLO has taken a very hands off approach to his country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

AMLO, 67-years-old, has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to travel extensively across the country aboard commercial flights – putting both his health and those around him at risk.

He has also resisted locking down the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many Mexicans who live day to day. And because of that, Mexico has one of the highest death rates in the world. Early in the pandemic, asked how he was protecting Mexico, AMLO removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly showed them off.

“The protective shield is the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’” AMLO said, reading off the inscription on the amulet, “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.”

In November, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, urged Mexico’s leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens, saying that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to experience the worst effects yet of the global health crisis.

Credit: Ismael Rosas / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Thanks to a lack of national leadership, Mexico is one of the 17 countries that has reported more than one million cases of Covid-19. Since early October, newly confirmed cases and deaths have been reaching record levels, with recent daily numbers some of the highest since the beginning the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has recorded at least 1,752,347 Covid-19 cases and 149,084 people have died from the virus in the country.

In hardest-hit Mexico City, nearly 30 public hospitals report they have reached 100% percent capacity, and many others are approaching that mark. The city’s Mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, has urged residents to not go out unless absolutely necessary. In December, Mexico City and the state of Mexico were placed into “red level,” the highest measure on the country’s stoplight alert system for Covid-19 restrictions. The tighter measures included the closure of indoor dining, with only essential sectors like transport, energy, health and construction remaining open.

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