Things That Matter

An 82-Year-Old Abuelo Finally Finished Elementary School And Learned How To Read

Leave it to an 82-year-old abuelo in the Mexican state of Oaxaca to show us all how to live our best lives. Despite being forced to choose work over school in order to help support his family, Timoteo Pacheco Rodríguez never gave up on his goal to go back to school – all the way back to elementary school – and get his diploma.

In Mexico, 3.6 million people do not know how to read and nearly half of those are adults over the age of 60. So Rodríguez is not alone. The country has so many stories similar to his and yet his story of hard work and determination is helping bring a bit of positivity into the lives of people all over the country.

Despite the pandemic, this 82-year-old man finished elementary school and learned how to read.

If there was ever an example of perseverance and determination, this man’s story is it. Despite a global pandemic, 82-year-old Timoteo Pacheco Rodríguez was awarded his diploma upon finishing his elementary school studies.

To make the celebration even more special, Rodríguez was granted his diploma on the International Day of the Elderly.

Rodríguez is originally from a small town in Oaxaca and didn’t have the access to regular studies as a child. He’s since spent his life in Oaxaca City and has dedicated his life to producing and growing coffee.

He explained that he found a good work/study balance, “I worked in the mornings and in the afternoons, did my homework, reviewed, studied the books they gave me and did my plans and my numbers,” he told Milenio.

He acknowledged that studying at his age is not easy, but with determination and hard work anything can be done. He also thanked his family for their support, adding that “They always supported me, in reviewing what I didn’t know,” especially one of his grandchildren who is also in school.

And Rodríguez isn’t done yet. He plans to continue his studies for as long as he can. If God gives me life, I will continue with my studies and finish high school,” he told Milenio.

Rodríguez is not alone – Mexico has made it a goal to help educate and improve literacy rates across the country.

Credit: Mexico Literacy Project

Mexico has made extreme progress in eradicating illiteracy from the country over the past 40 years. As recently as 1970, it was estimated that 26% of Mexicans couldn’t read or write. It was so serious that Mexico City’ Metro network was designed with illiteracy in mind.

However, as of the latest census (2005) it’s estimated that about 96.3% of Mexicans have the ability to read and write. However, there are still extreme variations in those numbers. For example, in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero – three states it’s the highest rates of poverty – the literacy rate hovers around 77% to 78.4% for those over 15.

As a result, the government created the National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) in 1981 to help adults and young people over the age of 15 complete their studies. In 2019 more than 411,000 Mexicans obtained a diploma or learned how to read through INEA programs. Of those, 215,817 finished high school, and 96,645 graduated from primary school. Since its inception, more than 14 million people have benefited from INEA programs. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at

#MyNameIs: Twitter Hits Back At Republican Senator Who Mocked Kamala Harris’ Name

Things That Matter

#MyNameIs: Twitter Hits Back At Republican Senator Who Mocked Kamala Harris’ Name

Robyn Beck / Getty Images

How often have you had your name mispronounced? In the U.S., if you don’t have a Anglo-sounding name, so often people think it’s totally acceptable to not even attempt to pronounce it correctly.

Well, one GOP senator took that even further by deliberately mispronouncing Sen. Kamala Harris’ name at a recent Trump rally in Georgia. And his ‘flub’ which his team is terming it was welcomed with loud cheers by the audience who welcomed his ignorance.

After a Republican Senator mocked Kamala Harris’ name, Twitter is standing up to ignorance and racism.

#MyNameIs has been trending on Twitter since the weekend, after a Republican Senator mispronounced Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ name multiple times at a rally for President Trump. 

Following the blatantly insensitive and even racist ‘flub’ by Senator David Perdue (R-GA), who was speaking at a Trump rally in Macon, Georgia, many derided the act as race baiting. Twitter users, celebrities, and politicians rallied behind Harris by sharing empowering anecdotes about and meanings behind their own names, plus instances where people have mispronounced them.

Sen. Perdue – who has worked with Kamala Harris for years – mispronounced her name to loud cheers at a Trump rally.

Sen. Perdue – who has been Harris’ Senate colleague for more than three years – repeatedly mispronounced her name during the rally ahead of the president’s arrival. 

“But the most insidious thing that Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden are trying to perpetrate — and Bernie and others with them — and Kah-MAH-la, KAH-mah-la, Kah-MAH-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever,” he jeered, prompting laughter from rallygoers.

Perdue’s remarks drew instant backlash from fellow politicians and other users on social media — including his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, who claimed his opponent’s mispronunciation of Sen. Harris’ name was a deliberate act of racism. 

It’s not the first time the Republican senator has come under fire over racial issues. In July, his campaign ran an ad on Facebook that featured Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose.

“This is the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history,” Ossoff tweeted at the time.

Perdue’s campaign said it was an “unintentional error that distorted the image.”

Many other politicians took to Twitter to explain the meaning behind their own names.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) took to Twitter in response to a tweet from fellow squad member Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17). In her tweet, Omar explains how her name is actually spelled with an ‘m’ but she prefers the ‘n’ sound. She goes on to explain that her name means ‘inspiration’ in Arabic and that her father named her Ilham in the hope that she would one day lead a life of service to others.

The original tweet from Rep. Khanna says that her name is Rohit, which means ‘bright light’ in Sanskrit.

Plenty of celebs also chimed in with their own personal stories.

Celebrities are coming together to share the meanings and origins behind their names as part of the #MyNameIs hashtag on Twitter.

Comedian and actor and activist Kal Penn explained that he decided to change his name from Kalpen, in the hopes that it would help him more easily get a job. In a jab at Sen. Perdue, he adds in that he’d be happy to offer the senator “some tips on finding a new one [job] of his own.”

Olympic athletes also felt moved to share their names.

Even Michelle Kwan, the record-setting Olympic ice skater, was called to share the origins of her name. Her full name, in Chinese pinyin, is pronounced ‘Guan Ying Shan’ and it means beautiful, strong, and smart.

She also calls out people for mocking ‘foreign sounding’ names and asks her followers to join her in voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Others pointed out the obvious – people of color shouldn’t have to adapt their names to make it easier for white people.

It’s a shame that we have to state the obvious but that’s exactly what many were having to do on Twitter – and so often in our everyday lives. One Twitter user named Zara Ahmed explained that her parents picked out a name that would be easily pronounced by non-Indian people. But she rightfully goes onto explain that it shouldn’t be POC who have to limit their cultural identities to make life easier for white people. 100%!

Harris has even released a video on how to properly pronounce her name.

Kamala Harris, who could become the country’s first black Indian-American vice president if she and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are elected next month, has previously described how to pronounce her name, which means “lotus flower” – a sacred symbol in Asian cultures

Harris, who is running alongside Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, who is from India, and Donald Harris, who is Jamaican. In 2010, she became the first Indian-American-Jamaican attorney general in California, and she was elected to the Senate in 2016. She also ran for president before dropping out of the primary race in late 2019.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at