Things That Matter

For The First Time In 500 Years, Mexico’s Famed Guerrero Market Is Closing And It’s Having A Huge Impact On The Community

Mexico is home to thriving mercados that provide much of the nation’s beautiful and diverse produce to locals across the country. From Mexico City’s famed La Merced (once the largest market in the Americas) to La Ciudadela (the place to get artisan Mexican goods) – these markets have been a lifeline to both vendors and consumers for hundreds of years.

Several mercados predate the arrival of Europeans to the country and are steeped in rich traditions. One such mercado that has been around – and in continuous operation – for more than 500 years is the Chilapa Sunday tianguis in Mexico’s Guerrero state. But now, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s been forced to close its doors for the first time in its history.

The closure of the Guerrero Market will have severe repercussions for the community.

Raul Barragán / Flickr

The Chilapa municipal government notified the more than 1,000 vendors who set up their booths under the plastic tarps each Sunday that the tianguis would be cancelled as of yesterday, and would remain closed for the two following Sundays.

The pandemic had already begun to take its toll on the weekly flow of goods in Chilapa, as the number of visitors has decreased dramatically during the crisis. For weeks, the market ran at minimum capacity, covering local demand but little more. Often vendors could barely sell of more than a quarter of the goods they were bringing.

Now the subsistence farmers, artisans and other local and regional merchants who depend on the tianguis for their livelihood don’t even have the option to barter their goods, a custom that is still practiced in this and other such markets in Mexico.

One of the oldest markets in Mexico, the Chilapa tianguis has persisted in spite of adversity, especially during the last decade, due to drug-related violence.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

The situation came to a head in 2014 when the violence severely slowed down market activity, but did not stop it completely. Many rural transportation companies suspended services, making it difficult for farmers to make it to the city to sell their goods. Others never returned: they were either killed or fled the insecurity.

The violence kept market activity to a minimum for years, but nothing was able to stop it completely, until now.

The crisis has hit those in the informal economy hard.

Credit: Raul Barragán / Flickr

The coronavirus is gutting economies around the world, but the damage is proving particularly damaging in Mexico, a country that was already in a slump before the pandemic hit.

Some street vendors in Baja California Sur have even resorted to bartering directly for food to survive in the absence of the tourists on which they depend for sales. Such vendors commonly earn just enough for them and their families to get by day to day and do not have the option to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic in home isolation.

“I need food in order to feed my children, that’s why I’m exchanging my hats for food,” said Margarita, a street vendor originally from Oaxaca, told Mexico News Daily. She supports her family by selling woven sunhats from Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla.

The vendors in Los Cabos aren’t the only ones in the country who have had to adapt to the caprice of the Covid-19 pandemic. Street merchants from Acapulco to Cuernavaca to Mazatlán have been changing out their normal products for face masks in order to meet demand and be able to get by.

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Another International Brand Has Been Accused Of Copying Indigenous Mexican Designs

Entertainment

Another International Brand Has Been Accused Of Copying Indigenous Mexican Designs

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

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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