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.

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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.

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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

A 25-Year-Old Woman Was Murdered And Skinned, Then Mexican Newspapers Published Photos Of Her Body

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A 25-Year-Old Woman Was Murdered And Skinned, Then Mexican Newspapers Published Photos Of Her Body

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In Mexico, the recent brutal mutilation and slaying of a 25-year-old woman are spurning conversations about the country’s efforts to prevent femicide and laws that protect victims from the media.

On Sunday, Mexican authorities revealed that they had discovered the body of Ingrid Escamilla.

According to reports, Escamilla was found lifeless with her body skinned and many of her organs missing. At the scene, a 46-year-old man was also discovered alive. His body was covered in bloodstains and he was arrested.

As of this story wasn’t troubling enough, local tabloids and websites managed to bring more tragedy to the victim and her family by splashing leaked graphic photos and videos of the victim’s body. In a terribly crafted headline, one paper by the name of Pasala printed the photos on its front page with the headline “It was Cupid’s fault.” The headline is a reference to the fact that the man found at the scene was Escamilla’s husband.

According to leaked video footage from the arrest scene, Escamilla’s husband admitted to stabbing his wife after a heated argument in which she threatened to kill him. He then claimed to have skinned her body to eliminate evidence.

Mexic City’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, revealed that prosecutors will demand the maximum sentence against the alleged perpetrator.

“Femicide is an absolutely condemnable crime. It is appalling when hatred reaches extremes like in the case of Ingrid Escamilla,” Sheinbaum wrote in a tweet according to CNN. According to reports, Mexico broke records in 2018 when its homicide record reached over 33,000 people that year.

The publication of Escamilla’s mutilated body has sparked discussions regarding the way in which reports about violence against women are handled.

Women’s rights organizations have lambasted the papers that originally published photos of Escamilla’s body and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also expressed criticism of the media’s response to the brutal slaying.

In a press conference on Thursday, President López Obrador expressed his determination to find and punish anyone responsible for the image leaks. “This is a crime, that needs to be punished, whoever it is,” he stated.

Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

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Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

Alan Ortega / Getty

Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve is one of the world’s most famous wildlife hotspots. Hundreds of thousands come each year to view the annual migration of millions of beautiful butterflies that call Mexico’s Michoacan state home during the winter.

However, this iconic and majestic habitat for one of the world’s most endangered animals is now the backdrop for a dramatic murder mystery that is unfolding in international headlines. Two conservationists have been discovered dead just days apart and investigators still aren’t sure why.

A second victim has been pronounced killed by authorities in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly reserve.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

One of the world’s most beautiful wildlife spots is now the backdrop for a dramatic double murder after two nature activists are discovered dead at Mexico’s El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary.

The deaths of Homero Gomez Gonzalez, manager of the butterfly reserve, and Raul Hernandez Romero, a tour guide at the sanctuary, have sent shockwaves across the world of wildlife conservation.

Hernandez Romero’s body was discovered on Saturday near the highest point of the mountainous sanctuary, which sits 9,000 feet above sea level in the state of Michoacan, about 130 miles west of Mexico City, according to a statement from the Michoacan state prosecutor’s office. Hernandez Romero’s family reported him missing on Friday, officials said.

The new victim was found just days after the first victim’s body was found after being missing for 16 days.

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Authorities discovered his body about three days after the Hernandez Romero’s body was found in a pond near the Central Mexico town of El Soldado, prosecutors said.

An autopsy performed in the presence of State Human Rights Commission representatives determined Gomez Gonzalez died from “mechanical asphyxiation” after suffering head trauma and being submerged in water.

Gomez Gonzalez, whose family reported him missing two weeks ago, was one of the region’s most prominent conservation activists and a vocal defender of the monarch butterflies. He had launched a campaign against illegal logging that threatens the butterflies nesting grounds.

Although petty crime and theft is common in these parts of Mexico, authorities don’t believe this to be the case in Gonzalez’s death. He was found with about $9,000 pesos (or about $500 USD) on him when his body was discovered.

Mexico’s Monarch butterfly preserve is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

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Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies make their home at the El Rosario reserve in Mexico — one of the best places in the world to see them. Local guides lead tourists up the mountainside on foot and horseback to where the monarchs cluster in fir and pine trees. Their bright orange wings flit amid the mild weather of Michoacán, and signs ask for silence as visitors enter the nesting areas.

The El Rosario sanctuary is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, calling the overwintering concentration of butterflies there “a superlative natural phenomenon.” It noted that more than half of overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly’s eastern population are found in these specific areas of Mexico.

But the same forests that draw butterflies to migrate thousands of miles each winter are under threat from illegal logging and clandestine avocado farms.

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Officials in the state of Michoacán said they were unsure if the two deaths were linked – or related to the men’s work in the butterfly reserve. The state has seen a rising tide of violence in recent years, and the region around the monarch butterfly reserve has been rife with illegal logging, despite a ban imposed to protect the monarchs, which winter in the pine- and fir-covered hills.

Some illegal clearcutting is also carried out to allow for the planting of avocado orchards – one of Mexico’s most lucrative crops and an important part of Michoacán’s economy.

The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection.