Like many foreigners of old, Donald Trump has found a gold mine in Mexico that has been particularly beneficial to him in rallying his base. For more than two years, he has been hurling insults over his imaginary, beautiful, border wall to the delight of his followers while making many people in Mexico fume like the country’s famous volcano, Popocatépetl. He has compared us to rapists, killers, drug dealers, and job stealers, but he has not really hit the mother lode of insults that will really make Mexicans explode.

You see, these names, though offensive, are a bit tame compared to other things that Trump, or anyone else, can say to Mexicans that will truly make them go ballistic.

The following does not apply to all Mexicans since that would lead into the terrain of stereotypes, but these are five things that many people in Mexico are super touchy about.

First, don’t ever tell a Mexican that the Virgen de Guadalupe is a hoax. Doing this is like taking the comfort blanket away from Linus, that insecure character from the comic strip, Peanuts. You are stripping them of their identity, of that which gives them some stable meaning. La Virgen Morena (The Brown Virgin) is the glue that keeps their social reality intact because they know that nationalism doesn’t work too well anymore. Without her sacred image, Mexico disintegrates into nothingness. So if you claim the Virgin is a hoax be ready to see Mexicans fight you like a mother bear defending her cubs.

Mexican Insults(2)
Foto: Álvaro Ramírez

Second, you will also highly provoke Mexicans if you ever mention that racism is alive and doing well in their country. No way, they’ll tell you. We’re not racists only the Americanos and Europeans practice those bad habits. Here in Mexico, we have class but not race. You can take them to the region of La Costa Chica in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca where they’ll see plenty of Afro-Mexicans suffering discrimination, you can demonstrate to them how much racism Indigenous people endure, or you can point out how racism is at work in television in everything from commercials to telenovelas, still Mexicans will fight you all the way and deny that there are any racist among them.

Mexican Insults8
Ballet Folkrórico, foto: Álvaro Ramírez


Third, in fact, when discussing race matters with a Mexican, don’t ever make the mistake of calling him an “indio” (Indian). Even if they have strong physical features associated with the natives, they’ll take it as a derogatory remark especially if you say it in anger. In any case, call a Mexican an Indian and you’ll have a very deeply wounded person who will deny or downplay his Indian-ness unless, of course, he or she wants to sell you some native arts and crafts, then they’ll play it up for you, they’ll perform this ethnic role in exchange for dollars.


Mexican Insults5 (1)
Foto: Álvaro Ramírez

Fourth, Mexicans will also be offended and hurt if you call them “naco,” a demeaning and repulsive word associated with Indians that has race and class connotations. This denigrating word refers to low-class ghetto people imitating the tastes of the upper class who aspire to enjoy the delights offered by the multinational companies but all they can afford are the pirated knockoffs. Therefore, “nacos” are people who live in an imitation world, trapped in a tacky, garish reality in the worst possible way. Calling a Mexican “naco” is similar to calling an American, white trash. It will lead to problems and it’s best to avoid it.

Mexican Insults4
Foto: Álvaro Ramírez

Fifth, don’t ever tell anyone in Mexico that you can get real Mexican food in the United States. They’ll come at you with everything in the kitchen and beat you senseless with your burrito de carne asada. Mexicans will angrily tell you that Americans destroy everything dealing with food and turn it into a bland menu a la Taco Bell. They’ll also argue that the real deal can only be had in Mexico; everything else is fake Mexican cuisine, but the truth is that many Mexicanos are hooked on American food, especially the fast kind.

Mexican Insults6
Foto: Álvaro Ramírez

You have been warned. Don’t touch these five nerves in a Mexican, avoid them and you’ll have a great relationship, bring them up and the Popocatépetl will start to rumble.








Add yours →

  1. When a non-Mexican Latino is offended to be assumed Mexican. That’s offensive.


  2. Great post! My Afro Cubano father moved to Guadalajara when I was eight or nine to escape the racism he experienced in the US since jumping ship in New Orleans sometime in the 1930s. My mother was an white appearing Irish Jew and my dad must have faced the constant humiliation of having her “front” for them in everything they tried to do–from buying a new car, to getting mortgages on our home. In Mexico, he certainly must have confronted racism; however, the fact that he was a man gave him status over his wife and my mother–sexism trumps racism?! He lived his final 25 years or so in Guadalajara’s Sector Reforma, where he operated a panaderia and a small neighborhood tienda de abarotte.

    I recall sitting on a beach outside of La Paz nearly thirty years later with my best friend who is Costa Rican. As we drank beers and spoke with some locals, one of them also claimed there is no racism in Mexico. We made the same observation about the skin tones of the actors in novellas and pointed to the slogan for Carta Blanca beer: La Rubia Que Todos Quieren….


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