María Salud Ramírez Caballero has become the face of Santa Fe de la Laguna, a town of Purépecha potters in Quiroga, Michoacán, thanks to the 2017 Disney-Pixar animated film Coco.
Family and friends claim that the character of Mamá Coco, a warm-hearted, supportive and kind great-grandmother was based on the 105-year-old Salud.
Granddaughter Patricia Pérez Hernández told the newspaper El Universal that Mamá Coco’s appearance, gait, way of speaking and other mannerisms are based on those of Salud and that it is a mistake that the film’s producers have not given her official recognition.
Whether Nana Salud, as the woman is affectionately called, is the single source of inspiration for the filmmakers is a matter for another day. In the meantime, the residents of her hometown have embraced her and municipal authorities have gone as far as giving her official recognition and appointing her ambassador of the region’s artisans.
The film did draw inspiration from the town of Santa Fe as it did from towns across the Mexican southeast, and a young potter asserted that sales have improved since Coco’s release.
The film “has benefitted us a lot, because more tourists come. The town is known due to [Salud’s] fame, and [visitors] buy our handicrafts, all our handmade products . . . ” said Gabriela Gabriel Fabián, 23.
Even though she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease three years ago and prescribed oxygen tanks to help her breathe, Salud remains an active woman, briskly walking the streets of Santa Fe.
After Coco was screened in her hometown, a steady flow of visitors has arrived at her doorstep looking to meet her and get their picture taken with her.
Salud has declared that she is not looking for recognition or money, and that the way her life has changed after the release of Coco has made her happy. Still, more visitors mean that she can sell more of her pottery creations and earn “a few more centavos.”
Source: El Universal (sp)