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. 

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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