AUSTIN, Texas–At the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas, the booth operated by Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) is causing controversy for mocking Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Governor.
Fischer’s booth, which he has been promoting heavily all day on his Twitter account (@TMFtx), is giving away “Lotería” cards, or Mexican lottery cards that feature characters and riddles. Fischer has assigned nicknames like those commonly found on the traditional cards to Texas politicians:
Leticia Van Der Putte: La Dama (the lady)
Trey Martinez Fischer: El Jefe (the boss)
Gilberto Hinojosa: El Bigotón (the big mustache)
Wendy Davis: La Valiente (the valiant, or brave, one)
Julián and Joaquín Castro: Los Cuates (the twins)
Greg Abbott: El Diablito (the little devil)
Most of these nicknames are not controversial. The Castro brothers are indeed identical twins, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa is known for his distinctive mustache similar to Mexican character actor Arturo “El Bigotón” Castro, and State Senator and Democratic nominee for Governor Wendy Davis is undoubtedly viewed as “brave” by her fellow Democrats.
The nickname assigned to Abbott, however, is more questionable. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez infamously referred to President George W. Bush as “El Diablo” in a 2006 speech at the United Nations General Assembly, and the term is no more flattering in Spanish than it is in English. And not only has Fischer decided to call Abbott the devil, the image on the card shows Abbott with devil horns. The other cards featuring Democrats have no such additions to their images.
Moreover, the “-ito” ending is a diminutive ending in Spanish, used to denote that something is small, childlike, or adorable. For example, un gato means a cat, and un gatito means a kitten. Calling the fifty-six year old Attorney General of Texas El Diablito instead of El Diablo could be viewed as an attempt to diminish or mock him. Sources who have seen the photo questioned whether the diminutive ending was an underhanded attack on Abbott, who is in a wheelchair. Earlier this year, Battleground Texas drew criticism when a Project Veritas video investigation revealed supporters of Davis making fun of Abbott.
Fischer’s Lotería cards display is also drawing criticism for the photo booth display they set up, where they have encouraged convention attendees to take photos using props like a sombrero and dark mustache, as shown in this tweet from Fischer’s account:
– TMF (@TMFtx) June 27, 2014
Attempts to reach Fischer or his campaign for comment were unsuccessful.
Sarah Rumpf is a political and communications consultant living in Austin. You can follow her on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.