As early as January 15 of this year, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes — the state political arm of the widely known pro-choice organization — has resorted to using the phrase “Sucio Lucio” in attacks against state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville).
Activists in the district have used the term as early as 2017, primarily criticizing Lucio for his more conservative stance on abortion in contrast to most elected Democrats.
The organization even launched a website under the same antagonistic nickname.
According to Lucio’s campaign, Planned Parenthood has most recently sent out a direct mailer using the term.
On Thursday, Lucio published a press release in response that included a comment from his son, state Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville).
“I’m truly disheartened, given all that’s happening in the world today, that Planned Parenthood, Texas Freedom Network, Texas Rising, and others continue to disparage our family name with derogatory and racial slurs,” said Lucio III.
“These big special-interests groups from outside our border community should comprehend the deeper connotations behind the word ‘sucio’ (‘dirty Mexican’) and the association with a person of Hispanic decent,” he continued.
Perhaps ironically, some uses of the term “sucio” are said to be “slang for one who’s ill-moraled in a sexual nature” and is compared to the use of the homosexual-disparaging term “fag.”
Elsewhere, Planned Parenthood has discouraged use of similar vocabulary.
“Be careful of how even casual language — such as saying ‘that’s so gay’— can hurt others,” the parent organization states on its website.
Lucio III likewise called on the organization to stop using the term “Sucio” against his family for similar reasons, emphasizing the word’s racial connotations.
“Mexican-Americans are hard-working, family-oriented individuals, never should the word dirty or its Spanish-language equivalent be used to describe one of us,” said Lucio III.
“Given current events and the social awareness on being accepting of all races and cultures, the continued use of this term is insensitive and in poor taste. We can respectfully disagree on issues without being offensive to an entire culture,” he concluded.
Lucio III noted further on social media that he does not share the same views as his father on several social issues.
“If people want to disagree with him on issues like I have, I’m all for it,” said Lucio III. “I’m just advocating to cut out the name calling and for outside groups to stop using this term in a derogatory manner.”
Several other Democratic state legislators have joined Lucio III in the condemning Planned Parenthood for their rhetoric, including state Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) and state Reps. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) and Oscar Longoria (D-Mission).
“This reference is hateful and deplorable,” said Menéndez. “I whole heartedly believe in civic engagement and public accountability, however racist rhetoric should not be intertwined in the two.”
“Planned Parenthood is so out of line!” tweeted Canales. Noting his support for “reproductive rights,” Canales said that “unless an immediate apology is issued,” the pro-choice organization “[won’t] ever set foot in my office.”
Though not directly responding to the incident, state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas) alluded to it, saying, “[W]e should demand accountability from our public officials. Blast them on their votes. But steer clear of rhetoric that plays on stereotypes when our country is working to diminish racism.”
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes has not responded to the recent criticism of its name-calling.
The organization is actively supporting Sara Stapleton Barrera, Lucio’s progressive opponent, in the runoff election set for July 14 with early voting already underway.
In the March 3 primary, Lucio narrowly missed the threshold to avoid a runoff, receiving 49.8 percent of the vote. Barrera received 35.6 percent.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.