Things That Matter

The Mexican Factory That Built The Volkswagen Beetle Sent The Last Car Off With A Mariachi Band And Celebration

The last remaining factory in the world that produced Volkswagen Beetles ceased its production on Wednesday, July 11. The factory, located in Puebla, Mexico, sent off its last Beetle with a mariachi band and proud workers surrounding the vehicle, cheering it on to become the last and youngest model out there.

While the Beetle has been around for seven decades of societal change, critics don’t think VW was able to conform the model to meet consumer demands for SUVs. The factory will begin producing the Tarek SUV in 2020 in its place. In a move to mark the company’s embrace of the future, the very last Beetles will be sold on Amazon.com.

Puebla is done making the cars, but the vochos live on in spirit.

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

Puebla is just southeast of Mexico City, and while its top customer is the U.S., that’s because Mexicanos living in Cuautepec, also known as Vocholandia, are still driving the Type 1 model that ceased production in 2003. The town banned the use of vochos for taxis years ago but locals still know that vochos are the only way to taxi around town. The police rarely ticket the drivers.

For a car that has seeped into Mexican culture, a traditional Mariachi farewell felt appropriate.

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

As integrated “The Bug” is in popular culture–ranging from cartoon anthropomorphized talking cars to the hippie movement and arm-punching games, sales have slowed in recent years. Money talks louder, and Americans have spoken: no more Bugs. 

We’re also saying ‘thank you’ in Spanish.

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

It is kind of touching to know that the Beetles on the roads are likely fromMexico. Truly, gracias to all the workers who helped create a culture and counterculture around driving spunky cars that grew sunflowers.

Volkswagen de Mexico Chief Executive Steffen Reiche said, “Today is the last day. It has been very emotional.”

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

While the company might be grieving for the end of an era with the Beetle, it’s hopeful for the future. Before we take a look at the future, it’s important to recognize the history of the Beetle.

The first Volkswagen Beetle debuted in Germany in 1938 as part of Adolf Hitler’s push for car ownership.

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

Like Fanta, Volkswagen has an unfortunate history tied to Nazi Germany and the Third Reich. With the help of government promotion, Volkswagen’s Beetle sales soared and the chugged along German streets like ants in a line.

After World War II, Volkswagen released a newer, more colorful version that appealed to the hippie counterculture movement in the 1960s.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw4qy_KhwMn/

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

Through the 1950s, the Beetle was kind of a dud on the road. An influx of newer front-engined, luxury comfort cars started hitting the roads, but the Beetle never changed. Hippies loved that. It was understated, it advertised a “Live Below Your Means” mentality and the colors helped.

And, now, it’s all over. The Beetle will forever remain unchanged.

Credit: volkswagenmexico / Instagram

In 1986, VW announced the end of Beetle production in Brazil but restarted production in 1993. They ended it again in 1996, for real. Now, Mexico is the last remaining factory and it’s real this time. 

Vocholandia didn’t care for the modern version anyway.

@enelcoche / Twitter

The newer version doesn’t make it up to the hills as easily as the older version, according to the taxi drivers. If you ever miss the Bug too much, just visit Cuautepec.

Fans of The Bug have taken to Twitter to grieve the loss of their favorite car.

@jimenasalazarr / Twitter

The car may no longer be in production, but there are still many out on the road available for purchase. It just means that your options are fewer, mama.

Nostalgia is telling so many stories today, honey.

@Heidi9601 / Twitter

Try and find a Beetle owner who didn’t dream to own the car when they were a kid. They have so much personality and youth imbibed in the look, that you know every Beetle driver is just living out their dreams from childhood.

The saddest part of saying goodbye to the Beetle is knowing that this universal, cross-cultural, mildly violent bonding moment will be gone.

@depcow / Twitter

Alright, the feelings might be mixed depending on whether you were the vigilant observer or the kid just trying to chill in the car on the way home from school. You know who you are. #ByeByeBeetle.

READ: Mexico Is Selling Luxury Cars At A ‘Robin Hood’ Style Car Auction And Helping Fight Corruption

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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

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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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