South Texas bishop criticizes Planned Parenthood’s use of racial slur

Texas State Sen. Eddie Lucio, a pro-life Democrat and devout Catholic (far right), joins Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas at a Catholic Charities event in this May 28, 2014 photo. (flickr.com “Senator Eddie Lucio”)

BROWNSVILLE (CNA) — Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas has criticized Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion political organizations in the state for using an anti-Mexican ethnic slur in its campaign against the reelection of pro-life Democratic State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

The Planned Parenthood Texas Votes PAC and the Texas Freedom Network reportedly used the term “Sucio Lucio” to describe the state senator in a direct mailing campaign.

“While not surprised that Planned Parenthood would attack State Senator Eddie Lucio’s pro-life record, I am deeply discouraged that Texas Freedom Network and others would join in this malicious kind of attack, using such derogatory language to disparage him and his family,” Bishop Flores said in a July 3 statement.

“‘Sucio’ is an unacceptable word when associated with a Mexican American family name. Maybe they know not what such words mean in South Texas. Now more than ever it is imperative that words be used with care, with an awareness of their impact,” Flores added.

Lucio’s campaign issued a press release July 2, in response “to a recent direct-mail piece issued by Planned Parenthood and the Texas Freedom Network attacking Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. using the term ‘Sucio Lucio,’ to describe the Hispanic senator and his traditional Catholic values of support for life.”

Texas State Sen. Eddie Lucio, a pro-life Democrat and devout Catholic served as an acolyte for the first Corpus Christi procession from St. Mary Cathedral to the inside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin in this June 19, 2014 photo. (Arlen Nydam/Nydam Photo, via facebook.com/TXCatholic)

The release included a statement from Lucio’s son, Texas state Representative Eddie Lucio, III.

“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. 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 descent,” the younger Lucio said.

“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. 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,” Rep. Lucio added.

In his statement, Bishop Flores said that “Representative Eddie Lucio, III’s statement accurately reflects my sentiments.”

The senior Lucio, a pro-life Democrat, has been a member of the Texas Senate since 1991. The senator faces attorney Sara Stapleton Barrera in a July 14 runoff election. Stapleton Barrera has campaigned to the left of Lucio, calling herself a “true Democrat,” and has been endorsed by gay rights and pro-abortion groups in the state.

“Dirty Mexican” has been an anti-Mexican slur in use in the United States since at least the 1950s, as have derivatives which target particular Hispanic names. By some accounts, the word “sucio” is sometimes, but not always, used as slang to refer to a person who is either sexually immoral or homosexual.

Planned Parenthood has used the slur in the past against Lucio. In January, it tweeted the hashtag #SucioLucio while advertising a candidate’s forum.

Some defenders of the hashtag said on Friday it was meant only to denote the senator’s apparently “dirty political tactics.”

But the younger Lucio, who identifies his politics as “progressive” and has disagreed with his father on issues related to sexuality and gender identity, has insisted in recent days that the term is “derogatory.” Several Latino state legislators have agreed with him and denounced Planned Parenthood’s use of the phrase.

On Friday, the Mexican American Legislative Council said that political campaigns should “steer clear of political name calling that plays on racial, sexist, homophobic, ableist and every form of discrimination when our country is working for social justice.”

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