Culture

Mexican Abuelito Vows To Give Kids Free Sleigh Rides In His Santa Claus Mototaxi Until He Dies

For the last seven years, a Mexican abuelito has been rigging his motorcycle taxi to look like a Santa Claus sleigh, to the delight of children in his Oaxaca neighborhood, and is vowing to offer free sled rights to children for “as long as God gives me life,” he told a local outlet. Jerónimo Flores, 75, and his generosity have gone viral after a relative shared images of his mototaxi to Facebook, further spreading his Christmas cheer even beyond Juchitán, Oaxaca, the southwestern Mexican state that gave birth to the modern-day sleigh. Over the course of many years, Don Flores has been using his own savings to deck the halls of his mototaxi, purchasing materials, and constructing the design himself so that the front of the taxi looks like a giant Santa Claus head. The taxi’s headlights appear as glowing cheeks, while the driver’s windshield is protected by bushy white eyebrows and a pair of makeshift giant Santa Claus glasses.

This year, he had the idea to tow a sleigh behind the mototaxi and is vowing to let children right in the sleigh for free for as long as he lives.

Over the last couple of months, Don Flores emptied his savings account to pour 12,000 pesos ($628) to rig his mototaxi to be able to tow a sleigh full of children for free.

CREDIT: CORTA MORTAJA

Don Flores has been elevating his Santa Sleigh game every year since 2012, becoming an instant classic in his neighborhood’s Christmas celebrations. Complete with a larger-than-life Santa hat, a pink nose, and scruffy white beard, Don Flores’ Santa mototaxi is well known in his neighborhood. This Santa doesn’t retire to the North Pole all year long, however. The glowing-cheeked Mr. Claus also makes an appearance for Mexico’s Independence Day and on Halloween. This year, however, Don Flores had an idea that would require the help of his adult children and much more money. 

Don Flores built this two-row “floating” sleigh so that children could hop aboard for a ride in Santa’s sleigh for free.

CREDIT: ARTURO GARCIA / FACEBOOK

Even though Don Flores is well beyond retirement age by most folks’ standard, he continues to have to work for a living, driving his mototaxi around town. In his older age, Don Flores doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Once the idea to build the sleigh came to him, he couldn’t let it go, enlisting his sons and daughters to help him build the magical sleigh. The way they rigged the neon lights at the bottom even offers the optical illusion of a floating sleigh! “This year it occurred to me to build a sled to ride my children and children for free, without charging anything. I will continue this until God gives me life,” Don Flores told La Republica.

You better believe that the inside of Santa’s sleigh is decked out, too.

CREDIT: ARTURO GARCIA / FACEBOOK

What’s a Mexican sleigh ride without the most miniature of nativity sets anyway? Don Flores makes sure that his patrons and their children feel the magic of Christmas at every step on his mototaxi. Christmas lights line nearly every border of the taxi, from the sleigh to the brim of the Santa hat, to the seat cushions. Don Flores has become a beacon of light in every sense of the word in his community.

Santa may even need to build another sleigh to meet the demands of Juchitán’s children!

CREDIT: ARTURO GARCIA / FACEBOOK

“Beautiful ride with the mototaxi sleigh! Congratulations Abuelito Fito Flores,” Don Flores’ grandson, Arturo Garcia, posted to Facebook last week. Since then, the photos have been shared over a thousand times. “How beautiful! I already imagine the beautiful memory he is leaving his grandchildren. They will remember him forever,” one fan comments. Don’t even think about uttering, “OK, Boomer,” to this abuelito. “The most beautiful technology,” commented another fan. 

Today, Don Flores is known as the “Santa Claus de Juchitán.”

CREDIT: ARTURO GARCIA / FACEBOOK

For good reason, too. Flores has made it clear that he’s invested his money and energy into offering a little bit more magic to kids at Christmas time. “It gives me this pleasure, this joy of seeing the children,” Flores told Sopitas. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can support the good cause by becoming a paying customer of Don Flores. Every paid ride is a free ride for the children to have a big dose of Christmas magic.

READ: Here Is A 12-Song Playlist To Make Your Christmas Very Festive

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Mexico’s AMLO Wants To Launch New Social Media Network For Mexicans After Twitter Banned Trump

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Mexico’s AMLO Wants To Launch New Social Media Network For Mexicans After Twitter Banned Trump

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Love him or hate him, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has long called himself the voice of the people – and many Mexicans agree with him. That’s why his latest announcement against social media companies has many so worried.

In the wake of Twitter and Facebook’s (along with many other social media platforms) announcement that they would be restricting or banning Donald Trump from their platforms, the Mexican president expressed his contempt for the decisions. And his intention to create a Mexican social network that won’t be held to the standards from Silicon Valley.

Mexico’s AMLO moves to create a social media network for Mexicans outside of Silicon Valley’s control.

A week after his United States counterpart was kicked off Facebook and Twitter, President López Obrador floated the idea of creating a national social media network to avoid the possibility of Mexicans being censored.

Speaking at his daily news conference, AMLO instructed the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) and other government departments to look at the possibility of creating a state-owned social media site that would guarantee freedom of speech in Mexico.

“We care about freedom a lot, it’s an issue that’s going to be addressed by us,” he told reporters. He also added that Facebook and Twitter have become “global institutions of censorship,” sounding a lot like the alt-right terrorists that stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“To guarantee freedom, for freedom, so there’s no censorship in Mexico. We want a country without censorship. Mexico must be a country of freedom. This is a commitment we have,” he told reporters.

AMLO deeply criticized the moves by Twitter and Facebook to ban Trump from their platforms.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty Images

AMLO – like Trump – is an avid user of social media to connect with his constituents. He’s also been known to spread falsehoods and boast about his achievements on the platforms – sound familiar?

So, it came as little surprise when he tore into social media companies for ‘censoring’ Donald Trump, saying that they have turned into “global institutions of censorship” and are carrying out a “holy inquisition.”

Nobody has the right to silence citizens even if their views are unpopular, López Obrador said. Even if the words used by Trump provoked a violent attack against his own government.

“Since they took these decisions [to suspend Trump], the Statue of Liberty has been turning green with anger because it doesn’t want to become an empty symbol,” he quipped.

So what could a Mexican social media network be called?

The president’s proposal to create a national social media network triggered chatter about what such a site would or should be called. One Twitter user suggested Facemex or Twitmex, apparently taking his inspiration from the state oil company Pemex.

The newspaper Milenio came up with three alternative names and logos for uniquely Mexican sites, suggesting that a Mexican version of Facebook could be called Facebookóatl (inspired by the Aztec feathered-serpent god Quetzalcóatl), Twitter could become Twitterlopochtli (a riff on the name of Aztec war, sun and human deity Huitzilopochtli) and Instagram could become Instagratlán (tlán, which in the Náhuatl language means place near an abundance of something – deer, for example, in the case of Mazatlán – is a common suffix in Mexican place names.)

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Jorge Fernandez / Getty Images

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It may sound cliche but one Indigenous woman from the Mexican state of Oaxaca is showing just how true that sentiment really is.

Although growing up knowing how to speak her native language of Náhuatl, she was never able to read or write it – let alone Spanish. Now after years of studying and being too embarrassed to attend classes, this 78-year-old woman can say that she achieved her dream and is now an award-winning author.

Despite being illiterate for years, Justina Rojas has finally finished primary school.

Justina Rojas Flores, a resident of the Oaxacan community of San Miguel Espejo, learned to read and write at 76. She remembers that at first she was embarrassed to attend her classes, but with the support of her teachers sh was motivated to learn the alphabet and words and communication.

In fact, she became so motivated that she’s recently authored a handmade book that earned her a national award. She recently told El Sol de Puebla, that “I was already cracking under pressure because I was cheating a lot, but the teachers told me ‘yes you can, Justina’, so I continued taking classes and it was thanks to them that I learned. After two years, I wrote La Mazorca, which is dedicated to the community of San Miguel Espejo.”

In her Indigenous language of Náhuatl, Rojas shared the history of La Mazorca, which emphasizes the value of appreciating all things – especially that which the land gives us.

“I beg you, if you see me lying on the ground, pick me up, don’t step on me. Just as you take care of me, I will take care of you,” is part of the story in the book that was awarded in 2019 by the State Institute for Adult Education (IEEA), an achievement with which Rojas feels accomplished, and with which motivates other people to enter the competition.

Rojas is proving that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Now, at 78-years-old, Rojas is able to celebrate her achievements. Though she admits that many in her community continue to doubt her real motivation. It’s common to hear people ask ‘Why do I learn if I’m old?’, ‘What use is it going to do?’, and ‘I’m on my way out so it doesn’t matter.’

But many of the people who ask these questions are the same people who don’t have the same opportunities, since they can’t read or write. According to figures from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in Rojas’ community, there are around 2,267 inhabitants, and the majority are living in poverty, a factor that significantly influences educational access. Many, from a very young age, leave school to work to support their families and take jobs working in the fields or construction.

Finally, Rojas wants everyone to know that they should not limit themselves and to embrace knowledge regardless of age. “If you don’t know how to read and write, or if you know someone like that, I invite you to go where they teach, so that those who know more can share their knowledge with us.”

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