We explain the origin of the word ‘naco’ and its use in a derogatory, racist and classicist way in Mexico.
During the morning press conference on January 4, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador vindicated the ‘nacos’ as the people, within the framework of a year with elections in which three opposition parties formed a single front against Morena.
As the President explained, the word is used by groups against him, who use it in a derogatory way. However, AMLO indicated that the ‘nacos’ are the members of the people, and that is what makes a democracy.
What does the word ‘naco’ mean?
In Mexico, as in many places in the world, there are words that are used in a derogatory way. One of them, and that historically has been formed as a stereotype of a lower class or a person of ‘bad taste’ and without education, is the word naco. But what exactly does it mean to be ‘naco’?
According to the RAE dictionary, the word has several meanings in different Latin American countries, where the word comes from Galician-Portuguese; however, in Mexico, the word is used as a tentative derivative of ‘Totonaco’ and its meaning is ‘Indian’. In other words, it is used as a class and racist insult, by implying that an indigenous person, such as a Totonac, is something negative.
The Dictionary of Americanisms, meanwhile, abounds in the use of the word Mexico, which ensures that a Naco is used to refer to a ” ignorant persona and vulgar, lacking education” or even a “person of few economic resources “ in the United States.
In addition, according to queries answered by the official RAE page on Twitter, the word ‘naco’ has derivations such as ‘naquez’, ‘nacada’, ‘nacazo’.
Thinkers such as Carlos Monsiváis tried to go further with the reflection on the conception of both the word and its derivatives, referring to the ‘naquiza’ and stereotypes that are involved in it.
“His society as a vision of the defeated: the naco wants to learn karate, he bets his soul on Cruz Azul, saves with his friends to play squash once a month, I took him to llanero soccer, he continues to start with prostitutes, he is excited to English courses from which she will never get into any conversation. I will be synthetic: alienated, manipulated, financially devastated, the naquiza goes crazy with what she does not understand and understands what does not make her mad. And for what else than the truth: the naquiza inherits what that the middle class abandons, “Monsiváis wrote in
Not that I’m ugly, but I’m badly wrapped he-heh (Notes on the aesthetics of the naquiza)
Where does the word ‘naco’ come from?
According to the text of Nicolás Alvarado, improper appropriation? An exploration of the limits of appropriation and the resignification of words considered discriminatory published by the UNAM, ‘naco’ comes precisely from Totonaco in a discriminatory act towards pre-Hispanic indigenous peoples, and was popularized during the 1970s by the character El Pirrurris, created by the Mexican comedian Luis de Alba.
The Pirruris was a parody of a stereotype known at the time as ‘papi’s son’ or ‘junior’. He constantly used the adjective to refer to those he considered to be socially, culturally or economically ‘inferior’ to him. Thus, the ethnic origin of the people by their traits, jobs, or customs determines, according to the use of the term, that they are descendants of some indigenous people, and therefore, the object of discrimination.
The term, however, has sought its countercultural appropriation. An example of this is Botellita de Jerez, who named their album released in 1987 Naco es Chido, and would include in the song ‘El Guacarock de la Malinche’ the phrase, seeking to vindicate the culture of segregated classes in Mexico, along with verses that They seek to remove stereotypes, referring to ‘malinchismo’.