Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has caused a stir on social media after appearing to seriously suggest that a photo features a mythical ‘alux’. The photo, which was shared on Twitter, depicts an unidentifiable creature at the top of a tree with white eyes and hair. The ‘alux’, according to traditional Mayan belief, is a small, mischievous spirit similar to an elf that lives in forests and fields. Some people leave small offerings to appease them.
Lopez Obrador, who has previously expressed his respect for indigenous cultures and beliefs, posted the photo as part of two new updates regarding the construction of a tourist rail service in the Yucatan peninsula, which is due to operate by the end of 2023. It was in this same region that the ancient Mayan civilization reached its peak from 300AD to 900AD, and descendants are said to still live in the surrounding areas. Despite the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, many have retained elements of the Mayan language, clothing, traditional foods, crops, religion and medicine practices.
Despite the scepticism from many about the alux photo, the image has so far amassed over seven million views on Twitter. The folklore surrounding aluxes suggests they are tricky spirits that are said to play pranks on and hide objects belonging to people. However, the creatures are generally viewed as friendly and are not considered to be dangerous, according to some accounts. While the belief in them is most commonly associated with Mayan communities, their existence is widely known throughout other parts of Mexico too.
Some online comments suggested that Lopez Obrador had posted the photo as a tongue-in-cheek comment, given the absurdity of the concept. However, the president did not suggest anything of the sort, instead adding an appropriately mystical caption: “everything is mystical.” It seems that while his Twitter post may ruffle some feathers, it ultimately helps to strengthen his appeal to millions of Mexicans who are looking for a leader with more human qualities than those of his predecessors.