Correspondents and Dispatches from the Frontera

Texas Monthly, Enough with The Mexican Stereotypes

In a recent article published by the Texas Monthly, writer David Courtney, also known as the Texanist, explores the origins of El Paso’s beloved nickname, El Chuco.

man s black blazer and brown traditional hat

The article starts with a simple question: Why is El Paso known as El Chuco?

David Courtney answers the question by giving a brief overview of Texas’s largest cities and their unofficial names, “Big D” for Dallas, “Panther City” for Fort Worth, “H Town” for Houston, and so on. But El Chuco is the only city nickname that Courtney associates with criminality, Mexican stereotypes, and a corruption of language. 

Those lucky enough to call the Frontera our home know that El Chuco is said with love, pride, and as a term of endearment.

As you read Courtney’s article, you’ll notice none of the other city’s nicknames are referred to as an alias. The word “alias” is defined as “an assumed or an additional name that a person (such as a criminal) sometimes uses.” Courtney’s use of the word alias sets the tone for the rest of the article, which is littered with Mexican stereotypes.

Why is the rest of Texas so quick to condemn El Paso?

This is not a new practice in the state of Texas. For white Texans, the border represents an invasion of criminals, a burden on society, and the underlining fear that these natives want their land back.

The rest of Texas is quick to criminalize and embarrass El Paso at every opportunity that arises. Thus, Dave Courtney, aka the Texanist, refers to El Paso’s nickname by invoking images of lawless teens, rebellion, and corruption of language.


“At various times in its past, it was, because of its Wild West lawlessness, known as “the Six-shooter Capital’ and ‘Sin City,’” Courtney writes of El Paso. He then claims, “El Paso was ground zero for a cultural movement in which rambunctious young Mexicans and Mexican Americans who were leery of assimilation found empowerment through acts of social rebellion.”

Think about the language used to discuss El Paso and its citizens: wild west lawlessness, ground zero, rambunctious, alias, leery of assimilation.

Courtney then whitesplains that Pachucos and Pachucas wore “flashy” clothes and indulged in the “occasional use of marijuana.” Furthering the stereotypes of criminality and otherness. He drives this point by writing that the pachucos developed their own patois or jargon, and thus El Chuco is short of Pachuco.

Though the Texanist claims El Chuco is the most interesting Texas nickname, he does little to speak well of the people in the Sun City.

Courtney’s final explanation for the origins of El Chuco comes from a corruption of language. “Some believe that it came about when residents of Ciudad Juárez who worked at an El Paso shoe company could be heard saying that they were going “pa el shoe co.,” or “to the shoe co.” Pa el shoe co.” Though there is limited evidence for this being the origin of the name.

The Texanist never considers the possibility that the natives of this land, which includes Tiwa, Mansos, Rararumri, and Mexicans, may have created the nickname El Chuco. Nor does he consider the unique and beautiful languages spoken on the El Paso / Juarez border, including Uto-Aztec languages that later combined with Spanish and English to make Calo.

According to educator Luis Maldonado, the Tiwa word for the El Paso region is xu-ko’a. “With time, the locals heard these individuals call the region chucoa. Soon, it became a cool nickname for their hometown.”

In part, the putting down of El Paso is connected to how white Texas sees its native peoples and their contribution to Texas culture. It doesn’t exist!

Let’s change that. 



carlos fidel espinoza