Original designs in the top row and their alleged copies by clothing brands below. Original designs in the top row and their alleged copies by clothing brands underneath.

Senate considers fines to punish unauthorized use of indigenous designs

NGO has identified 39 cases of cultural plagiarism

The Senate is considering a measure that would impose fines for the unauthorized use of indigenous designs on clothing and other products.

The proposal being discussed by the Senate culture commission would penalize the theft of indigenous cultural elements with fines up to 4.2 million pesos (US $218,000).

It also proposes that the state grant indigenous communities the collective right to ownership of their culture and identity.

Brands such as Carolina Herrera, Dior, Isabel Marant, Nestlé, Madewell, Mango, Zara, Desigual and Intropia have used indigenous designs without the consent of the communities from which they originate.

From 2012 to 2019, at least 23 national and international clothing brands have appropriated indigenous designs from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Hidalgo, according to the nonprofit organization Impacto.

The organization has identified 39 cases of alleged cultural plagiarism, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which informed the federal and state governments in January of the necessity to safeguard artistic rights.

The proposed initiative will provide a legal framework by which indigenous communities can solicit the intervention of government institutions in cases in which they feel their designs, knowledge or cultural expression have been used without their consent.

They will be able to seek compensation, reparations, removal of the cultural goods from the market and guarantees that the theft will not be repeated.

The proposal stipulates that indigenous communities have the right to reserve access to their ritualistic, religious, healing and other cultural expressions, or whatever they deem appropriate for the survival of their cultures and identities.

It also suggests the creation of a national inter-institutional safeguard system that will register, catalog and document expressions of indigenous and Afro-Mexican culture and identity.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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