Mexican President Says His Photo Shows Mythical Woodland Elf, And It's Been Viewed Over 9 Million Times
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has become a social media sensation after insisting a bit of Mexican folklore was alive and well and living in the Yucatan Peninsula.
“I share two photos of our supervision of the Mayan Train works: one, taken by an engineer three days ago, apparently from an aluxe; another, by Diego Prieto of a splendid pre-Hispanic sculpture in Ek Balam. Everything is mystical,” Obrador posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Since then, the tweet has garnered more than 9 million views.
Les comparto dos fotos de nuestra supervisión a las obras del Tren Maya: una, tomada por un ingeniero hace tres días, al parecer de un aluxe; otra, de Diego Prieto de una espléndida escultura prehispánica en Ek Balam. Todo es místico. pic.twitter.com/Tr5OP2EqmU
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) February 25, 2023
Fox News provided some context.
An aluxe is a bit of Mayan lore. Aluxes are small creatures that roam about in fields and forests and often play tricks upon people. Tradition calls for them to be appeased by small offerings.
In a 2008 edition of the magazine Voices of Mexico, a man from a Mayan village described aluxes.
“They appear on the roads, but not everyone can see them. Sometimes we think, ‘I don’t believe it,’ or ‘they’re tricking me,’ and we do things that bother them. So then, you’ll be walking along, and they’ll surprise you. ‘What’s that kid doing standing there?’ And when you look back, it’s not there anymore. It’s a spirit; it’s the wind. But the image stays in your eye, so you remember,” he said.
The image Obrador called an aluxe showed a figure with glowing eyes sitting in a tree at night.
The tweet drew massive responses, with some unconvinced that “everything is mystical.”
“Yes, Andrés, an engineer three days ago took a photo that has been doing the rounds in Nuevo León since February 2021 and in Thailand since December of that year. You are sad, very sad … and the country even more … If you believe it, you are stupid … if you know you are lying, you are malicious …,” one Twitter user wrote.
The fuss caught the attention of The New York Times, which wrote that the photo posted by Obrador had no metadata, which meant there could be no certainty over where or when it was taken.
The Times noted a similar image appeared on Twitter in 2021.
Se viraliza en redes fotografías de extraños “seres” captados en un Parque de la colonia Citricultores en #Terán #NuevoLeón.
Las imágenes fueron tomadas por el Sr. Juan Pacheco#Viral pic.twitter.com/8PXBkgCzgE
— Nelson Valdez (@nelvaldez) February 10, 2021
David Stuart, an art history professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has researched Mayan civilization, likened aluxes to leprechauns or elves that inhabit other folklore traditions.
“They were just the little beings out in the outskirts of town that would make your life difficult,” Stuart said.
He said his first thought when he saw that post was that Obrador was being “a little tongue-in-cheek about it, but I don’t know.”
“I have no idea what he was trying to do,” he said.
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