Mexico’s History Unveiled: 30 Eye-Opening Facts About its Past & Present

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1Jesus Garcia

Jesus Garcia

In 1907, a Mexican railroad brakeman named Jesus Garcia saved the entire town of Nacozari, Sonora by singlehandedly driving a damaged and burning train containing dynamite six kilometers away from the town before it finally exploded, killing him.

2. Scientists in Mexico turned tequila into diamonds by heating a cheap shot to 800 degrees Celsius. At that temperature, it vaporized and broke down into its atomic constituents, producing a fine layer of carbon crystal structures identical to diamonds on nearby metal trays.

3. In Mexico City, people were offered free wi-fi in exchange for picking up dog droppings and weighing them, thus measuring the amount of free wi-fi given, in an attempt to clean up the city from dog poo.

4. A Mexican woman named Julia Pastrana was toured around the world as "the bear woman". When she died in childbirth in 1860 her husband had her embalmed and continued touring. Her remains ended up in the basement of the University of Oslo. In 2013, she was finally laid to rest in Mexico.

5. The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is the largest cave shaft in the world, being almost 1,000 feet wide at the bottom and 1,100 feet deep, and it's home of many birds, but despite its name, almost no swallows.

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6María Lorena Ramírez

María Lorena Ramírez

In 2016, an indigenous Mexican woman named María Lorena Ramírez from the Tarahumara community won a 50 km ultramarathon featuring 500 runners from 12 countries while wearing a skirt and sandals made from tire rubber.

7. After an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City in 1985, nearly all newborn babies survived a collapsed hospital. They were nicknamed “Miracle Babies” for surviving 7 days without nourishment, water, warmth, or human contact.

8. A Mexican priest became a Lucha Libre wrestler named Fray Tormenta in order to raise money to support the orphanage he founded. When he retired, one of the children from the orphanage took up his mantle so that the legend of Fray Tormenta can live on.

9. The Tijuana International Airport in Mexico lies along the U.S. border and even includes a terminal on the U.S. side, making it the only airport to have terminals in two countries.

10. Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has no rivers, lakes, or streams. The Maya relied on the flooded mouths of underwater caves, called cenotes, for all of their freshwaters.

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11Tlatelolco massacre

Tlatelolco massacre

On October 2, 1968, 5000 soldiers surrounded and opened fire on 10,000 students, bystanders, and children in Mexico City. They were protesting government actions and previous incidents just weeks before the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Mexico City. The body count is still argued to this day.

12. A Mexican drug lord named Carrillo Fuentes tried to get plastic surgery to avoid capture but died during the operation. The bodies of his surgeons were found mutilated and encased in concrete four months later.

13. The "PPDG" penthouse in Guadalajara, Mexico, has a toilet with a glass floor looking into a 15-story elevator shaft. The building used to be an old Mexican colonial building and was supposed to have 2 elevator shafts. The second elevator was never installed.

14. In 1982, Mexican President José López Portillo made a speech asking for forgiveness over his mistakes as President and the economic crisis. He famously broke in tears during his speech after asking for the forgiveness of Mexico's poor. This passionate speech, however, did little to repair his image, and he remains one of the most unpopular Mexican presidents in recent history.

15. The Giant crystal cave in Mexico, with crystals weighing up to 50 tons, has an average of 100% humidity and 58°C temperature. This means that the coldest place in the cave was the lungs, so water would condense in it, and exposure for over 10 minutes would lead to death by drowning.

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16Mexican electrician

Mexican electrician

In 1983, a Mexican electrician inadvertently spilled thousands of cobalt 60 pellets in Ciudad Juarez, which eventually made their way into two foundries and contaminated 3,000 tons of steel, causing one of the worst nuclear accidents in North American history.

17. In Mexico, there are over 115,000 taco places, meaning that, on average, every Mexican has a taco place 400 meters (0.2 miles) away from them.

18. In the Kantemo Caves in Mexico snakes hang down from the cave ceiling to catch and eat bats.

19. Mexico had its first black president 180 years before the United States. Vicente Guerrero, who was one of the leading fighters for independence from Spain, was of half-African descent and later became the 2nd president of Mexico, abolishing slavery during his brief presidency in 1829.

20. A Mexican diplomat named Gilberto Bosques Saldivar rescued 40,000 people, mainly Spaniards and Jews, who wanted to flee Nazi-occupied France during World War 2. His heroism remained unknown to the world at large for some 60 years.

21Island of the Dolls

Island of the Dolls

A man named Don Julian Santana in Mexico hung thousands of dolls and doll parts from trees to please the spirit of a girl he found dead on an island (Isla de las Munecas) which has now been nicknamed the “Island of the Dolls.”

22. Mexican President Francisco Madero has the distinction of being the first head of state in the world to ever fly in an airplane, which he did with the Wright Brothers in North Carolina on November 30, 1911.

23. During the Torreón massacre over 300 Chinese immigrants were killed by the Maderistas during the Mexican Revolution. Some Chinese were saved by people like Hermina Almaráz, daughter of a Maderista leader, who told soldiers “they could enter the house over her dead body.”

24. Mexican General Santa Anna had an elaborate state funeral for his amputated leg. Ironically, soon after the funeral, his new prosthetic leg was seized by Americans as a war trophy and is still on display at the Illinois State Military Museum.

25. Mexican President Álvaro Obregón had his right arm blown off. The blast nearly killed him, and he attempted to put himself out of his misery and fired his pistol. Obregón always wore clothing tailored to show that he had lost his arm in battle, a visible sign of his sacrifice to Mexico.

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