Mama Coco Compensation Controversy Reignites

Mama coco
Credit: Hola.com

When news broke that MarĂ­a Salud RamĂ­rez Caballero had died, the controversy surrounding her was reignited. The woman who inspired Mama Coco in Pixar’s film Coco was proud of the part she played in the film’s story, but pride was all she ever got from it.


Many took to Twitter following her death to point out that despite inspiring the character, she was never compensated for it, which some believe is a serious misstep on Disney/Pixar’s part. It’s undeniable that Pixar appears to have used her likeness for the character. Take a look at the two side by side:

Mama coco

Credit: Complex.com

The resemblance is uncanny, as is the similarity between her town of Santa Fe de la Laguna and Miguel’s town Santa Cecelia in the film:

Mama Coco

Pixar, however, claims that she is not the basis for Mama Coco and that while they did visit her village, Mama Coco was yet to be a character in development at the time. Therefore MarĂ­a Salud RamĂ­rez Caballero did not serve as inspiration. This would mean that the film company didn’t owe her anything for her likeness.


However, people close to the woman, who lived to be 109 years old, said film producers did, in fact, talk to her and even photographed her. So did the company owe her? That’s not exactly a straightforward question. The use of someone’s likeness has been hotly debated in courts and even congress, and there isn’t a clear consensus. The answer undoubtedly lies with people with far more legal expertise than I have and isn’t likely to be firmly decided by those experts for a long time. Ethically speaking, however, many feel that she was owed something for her contributions. She died, though, never even having been formerly recognized as the inspiration, let alone to receive any compensation for it.

For her part, though, sources close to her claim she didn’t want money. She loved her town and her people and was just excited for them to get some recognition. “It has benefited us a lot because more tourists are coming in. This town is more known because of the movie. They buy our handicrafts,” she explained.




About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.