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  • Rapsodia used a very similar design in a blouse to one used in the traditional dress of Indigenous women in the Zapoteca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco, in the southern state of Oaxaca. 

    Rapsodia used a very similar design in a blouse to one used in the traditional dress of Indigenous women in the Zapoteca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco, in the southern state of Oaxaca.  | Photo: Change.org

Published 22 July 2016

The firm used a very similar design to the one used by Indigenous women in a Zapoteca village of Oaxaca. 

Designers and activists have started a petition on Change.org to demand an Argentine fashion firm recognize and compensate an Indigenous community in Mexico for having allegedly appropriated their original designs.

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Fashion company Rapsodia used a very similar design in a blouse to one used in the traditional dress of Indigenous women in the Zapoteca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco, in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Claudia Muñiz, who heads the petition, said that "the artisans in Mexico suffer from a lack of opportunities and markets within which to sell their products at a fair price.

"If they want to use or produce this Indigenous creation, they must pay a fair price for the work of embroidery made by Zapoteca women," she added.

Last year French designers used a traditional blouse of the community of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, Mixe, and presented it as their own design, causing outrage among those in the community as well as activists on Twitter.

The fashion firm Antiquite Vatic accepted that the blouse comes from that community, but has refused to pay any compensation and opened a case for claiming the copyright over the Zapotec cultural motif.

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Indigenous Rights Are Still Violated in Mexico

Following this case, Oaxaca’s state congress earlier this year awarded Cultural and Intangible Heritage status to the designs, costumes, and handicrafts as well as the languages spoken by the Indigenous peoples in the state, which has a large population of Indigenous people who have historically suffered from poverty and violence.

The petition called "Rapsodia: No more plagiarism or appropriation to the heritage of Indigenous peoples," has so far collected more than 15,000 signatures of the goal of 25,000, the number necessary to start any further action.


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