Are you ready for your Mexican political Spanish lesson, pupils?
If so, join the three-day old mudslinging language campaign — already unleashed in the State of Mexico (Edo-Mex) — in which former president Felipe Calderón and National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) have joined the fray. Today’s lesson, pupils, is to define the meaning of the word “chairo” and other slandering niceties that are being tossed around.
But let’s start this lesson from the beginning: last Monday, when in the city of Texcoco, just east of Mexico City, AMLO introduced Morena’s candidate for Edo-Mex governor Delfina Gómez Álvarez with a cutesy rather meaningless rhyme:
“The Del Mazos and the Josefinas are going to be beaten by our Delfina,” AMLO said referring to opposing candidates Alfredo del Mazo Maza and Josefina Vázquez Mota.
Immediately after, former president Felipe Calderón delivered a tweet mocking both AMLO and his candidate asking: “Is Delfina a person’s name? Or is she called this as to how she’s being treated by the one who appointed her and is her boss?”
Calderón gave the name Delfina — meaning female dolphin — a political slant in the old French sense that the dauphine, the dolphin, was always an envoy representing the king. The tweet was immediately withdrawn from Calderón’s twitter account, but the stone was cast.
On social media, there was by Monday evening a barrage of insults against the former president and the word “FeCal” (as leftists call Felipe Calderón for the first two syllables of his name) made a strong comeback.
Calderón attended the launching of Josefina Vázquez Mota’s campaign Monday accompanied by his wife Margarita Zavala and a leading presidential hopeful for the National Action Party (PAN). At PAN, , but the former president paid no heed.
On Wednesday he retorted with a second tweet just saying, “calm down you bunch of peje-chairos.”
Now here we come to the meaning of the composed words “peje” and “chairos.” Peje is short for pejelagarto, lizard fish, a snake looking alligator animal which is farmed for human consumption in the state of Tabasco. In popular Mexico City slang, the “pejes” are the people from Tabasco. Yet when López Obrador, a native of Tabasco State, was Mexico City mayor, a journalist who hated his guts began calling him “The Pejelagarto Mayor,” and over the years the nickname stuck. Even AMLO has said, “I’m a peje (Tabascan), but not a lizard.” The word “lagarto” or lizard is also interpreted as a con-man.
“Chairo” on the other hand, is a word that’s changed meanings over the years. In the old days, it was applied to people from the tropics that were considered “sloths” and did not work and were poor because they were lazy. It was also applied to absent minded people.
But since the advent of AMLO in politics, particularly after Felipe Calderón “robbed” him from the 2006 election, AMLO’s following blockaded Reforma Avenue in Mexico City for three months in a row in protest and his following began being labeled as “chairos” particularly by the uppity PAN people who defended Calderón’s presidency.
But the word “chairo” is also applied to people who work for and get paid by the government for having helped during political campaigning. These people are also known as “aviators.”
But for this case, the “peje-chairos” are those people who are obsessed with socialist idealism even leading to violence (revolutionaries) but are uneducated. In the case of AMLO and his protesters after the 2006 election, Calderón even proclaimed that AMLO was using them as “cannon fodder” to pigeon hole his administration.
What former president Calderón has done is stuck a stick in a hornets’ nest, as he has detracted the attention that was going to go to candidate Vázquez Mota, not only to himself, but to his wife Margarita who would like to be the first woman president of Mexico. With a husband like this, who knows?
Remember that the words dolphin, FeCal and chairo should not be part of your political vocabulary. They are for use among Mexicans involved in the on-going electoral process.