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Located 45 miles southeast of the City of Chihuahua, in the state of the same name, Ciudad Meoqui is your typical Mexican town. It has a population of a little over 20,000 and was named after a Mexican general – Pedro Meoqui Mañon – who died fighting the French in the battle of Parral in August of 1865. Before the name change in 1866, the town was known as San Pedro, and was the site of a former Spanish presido, or military fort, established in the 1770s. Before the Spanish colonial government established a permanent military presence in the area, the Franciscans built a mission on the modern-day townsite on the San Pedro River sometime in the mid-1600s. They ministered to the Conchos, Julimes, Navichames and Mezquites peoples. Nothing out of the ordinary happened in this largely agricultural town for centuries until October of 1987. It was in this month and year that Meoqui received international attention.
On October 27, 1987 4 children were playing in a courtyard of a house located on Francisco I. Madero Street in a neighborhood of Meoqui called Nuevo. The children were Sergio Alonso Lira Robles, age 12, Javier Valenzuela, age 11, and two neighbor boys, Mario Cosme Alvídrez Payán and his brother William Cosme Alvídrez Payán, better known as “Willy.” Mario and Willy were twins and both 7 years old. According to their testimonies, suddenly that day, a reddish blue light descended, and 5 small beings appeared. The light induced a state of numbness in the boys. In one account of the incident, the boys tried to run and one of them fainted. The beings told them not to be afraid and the boys stopped running. This was the first encounter that children of this town would have with what they thought were monkeys, hence the name of these creatures in the Spanish-language UFO literature, the “Monitos de Meoqui,” or, in English, “The Little Monkeys of Meoqui.” Mario and Willy told their parents what had happened by their house, about this strange encounter, and the parents didn’t believe them, dismissing the story as children having imaginary friends or something else the boys were making up. It was not until other interactions with these beings over the course of a week or so involving other children that the town started to think about this whole thing seriously.
Although the beings were initially called “monitos,” or “little monkeys,” they were not described by the children as being covered in fur with long arms and an ambling gait. They were more closely fitting to the description of the classic Greys of UFO lore. They were the same height of the children, but with spindly arms and legs and skinny bodies. Their heads were large with large reddish eyes, small noses and slits for mouths. They lacked ears, and the boys wondered how they could hear them because they obviously understood them when they talked. Some of these small humanoids had patches of closely cropped blonde hair on their heads, but they were otherwise hairless and smooth, and pale gray in color. In the ensuing weeks, the boys would draw pictures of these little visitors. Looking at any given drawing, a monito did fit the profile of the classic Grey, but with small variations. The creatures also spoke Spanish, but according to the children, their slit mouths barely moved. In perhaps a way to try to get closer to the boys and to gain their trust, these 5 beings had names, all in Spanish: Hugo, Pancho, Gaspar, Edgar and Crispin. The boys also noted that the creatures had a hard time moving and walked as if their legs were stiff. The beings also had 3 fingers and 3 toes, and circular marks on their chests. The drawings of the creatures that the children made eventually hit the local, national and international press.
What were the intentions of these beings? According to the story, they wanted to come to our world to study it. In one interview, one of the boys also said that one of the creatures had told him, “We like the weather here.” In subsequent encounters the beings seemed to come out of small shallow holes in the earth, leading the children to believe that the creatures came from underground instead of from the stars. When the holes opened up, the boys heard murmuring sounds of other beings, as if their new alien friends – Hugo, Pancho, Gaspar, Edgar and Crispin – were exiting a crowded room and coming into our world. During their almost daily encounters with these seemingly otherworldly little humanoids, the children never experienced the typical “missing time” associated with the alien abduction phenomenon, so researchers generally believe that the boys were not abducted. The large orb of light which heralded the first visit of these creatures seemed to appear off and on over the next few weeks. Other people in the town of Meoqui saw these lights and claimed they hovered over the ground and then zoomed overhead and out of sight. The sightings of the beings, however, were restricted to children and limited to only a handful of encounters over the course of a few weeks. By the end of November of 1987, the monitos apparently had left for good, but according to the boys, they did promise they would return one day to continue their research and earthly observations.
During the time of these sightings and immediately after, the sleepy town of Meoqui received a lot of attention. Townspeople themselves seemed divided about what to think about what supposedly happened in the Nuevo neighborhood. Some “wanted to believe,” especially those who were connected in one way or another to the children. Others were convinced that this supposed series of alien visitations was a hoax or some sort of mass hallucination. Curious gawkers, serious investigators and everyone in between came to the house of the first sighting, hoping either to see a creature or to talk to a witness. In true Mexican fashion, a carnival atmosphere developed outside the Alvídrez home complete with people selling balloons, gorditas and churros, and memorabilia related to UFOs and the alien abduction phenomenon. Relatives of the children, neighbors and other citizens of the town gave testimonies to the press during this time. Some of the stories were somewhat fanciful and told in a “friend of a friend” kind of way. While some neighbors participated in the commerce tied to this series of events, most people were glad when the crowds left and things went back to normal.
The story did not end by the end with the last alleged visit from these strange beings at the end of November 1987. Rumors persisted that NASA had been interested in these encounters and sent people to Meoqui in secret to investigate the situation for months after the sightings ended. Stories of strange white vans and sightings of suspicious-looking gringos spread throughout town. Later researchers who reached out to NASA for information about what happened in Meoqui or possible research done there have never been able to uncover anything.
The children who experienced the Monitos de Meoqui are now all adults… except for one. On April 6, 2007, Javier Valenzuela, age 30, was found dead in his home in the neighboring city of Delicias. His body was covered in what appeared to be surgical cuts, but none of his organs were removed. An autopsy of Javier Valenzuela could not determine cause of death, although a strange unidentifiable substance was discovered in his blood. Some wondered if the little beings kept their promise and did return a few decades later. The death of their childhood friend caused all the other boys involved in the sightings to go silent. On the 30th anniversary of the events of 1987, a Mexican paranormal investigator Francisco Totte visited Meoqui to make a small documentary about what happened. He tried to get the experiencers to talk, but all refused. Instead, he interviewed a retired schoolteacher who taught the children at the time who identified herself on camera as Maria del Carmen. Her testimony mostly focused on the stories she had heard about town which had already been entered into the general public record. Totte also interviewed a man named Aaron Robles and another man named Paco Valenzuela who both lived in the Nuevo neighborhood in late 1987 and heard all the stories connected with the alleged alien visitations. Robles claimed that the appearance of the little humanoids was nothing new in the area and that someone he knew had said he saw the same creatures the boys described in caves in the hills outside of town. Robles also described the strange lights seen in the skies in October and November of 1987. Paco Valenzuela, who was a distant relation of the young man who died of the mysterious cuts, described the general psychological state of the town during the 15 to 20 days of the strange events. He also assisted the authorities in getting drawings from the young experiencers. The boys were separated and mildly interrogated while they made their drawings. When authorities compared the boys’ drawings there were nearly identical. Francisco Totte wrapped up his little documentary in an interesting way. A song done in the norteño music style of Chihuahua titled, “Los monitos de Meoqui” is set to images related to the events of 1987.
Every year since 2010 the town of Meoqui has an art contest in honor of what happened there. A local manufacturing business called El Diamante supplies the town with dozens of life size alien figures made of newspaper, fiberglass and resin to be painted and adorned by prospective artists. Some of the final creations can be very creative and interest in this has grown over the years. There is still a great deal of disapproval in the town which prevents this minor celebration from turning into a full-blown annual fiesta. A large amount of people in Meoqui do not want to associate themselves with this bizarre story and many still cling to the idea that the boys made everything up and that over time the stories about what happened have morphed and changed and have taken on a life of their own. Some people want Meoqui to fall off the radar and remain a small, peaceful town as it was before these alleged encounters. Whether the townsfolk like it or not, it looks like people throughout Mexico and beyond will continue to show interest in the Monitos de Meoqui for the foreseeable future.
Various Spanish language web sites including El Heraldo de Chihuahua, Codigo Delicias and Delicias Hoy.