Latin American Official Calls Out O'Rourke for 'Beto' Nickname: It's a Gimmick To Win Over Latinos


The fact that Robert Francis O’Rourke has chosen to go by “Beto” has been a deeply divisive matter in the candidate’s native Texas and the nation at large. It turns out the controversy has reached Guatemala, as well.

In case you’d forgotten after being told by the media a million times, “Beto” absolutely isn’t a cynical moniker to win over Latino voters and is totally what his family has called him since he was young.

See, Robert was named after his grandfathers, but his family felt the name didn’t quite fit him. So they started calling him Beto, a common nickname for Robert or Roberto in Texas. The name apparently stuck, according to the El Paso Times.

In other words, stop calling this a ploy to win over Latino voters, Republicans. It’s an insult to Latinos!

Except, um, for Guatemala’s secretary of strategic intelligence, who got to the real truth about Beto’s name: It’s a gimmick that’s an insult to Latinos.

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Mario Duarte holds dual U.S. and Guatemalan citizenship and apparently isn’t going to be voting for Beto in the Democrat primaries. In fact, I would guess he’s not going to be voting in the Democrat primaries at all, given that he appeared on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight on Tuesday.

During his appearance, he was asked about “Beto” and what he thought about the nickname.

“Is the use of the nickname ‘Beto’ in a political sense, do you find that to be offensive?” host Joel Pollak asked. (Pollak, it’s worth noting, was the Breitbart reporter ejected from a Beto event earlier this week.)

“I mean, his roots are really Irish,” he continued. “Do you think that he’s falsely passing himself as Hispanic in the way that Elizabeth Warren once pretended to be Native American, or is it just a lighthearted nickname? How should we regard it?”

Do you think the nickname "Beto" is a cheap gimmick?

“It’s a political gimmick,” Duarte said. “As an immigrant [to the U.S.] myself … I think it’s a political gimmick to try to endear himself with the Latin population.”

“He’s trying to play a political part. Some people find it cheap. [It is] appropriation,” he added.

It’s worth noting Duarte is not the only person who feels this way. In a piece for National Review, Victor Davis Hanson pointed readers to a piece in the Dallas Morning News that was published shortly after Beto won the Senate primary in Texas back in 2018.

“In the backdrop of the city’s multicultural community, his father, Pat O’Rourke, a consummate politician, once explained why he nicknamed his son Beto: Nicknames are common in Mexico and along the border, and if he ever ran for office in El Paso, the odds of being elected in this mostly Mexican-American city were far greater with a name like Beto than Robert Francis O’Rourke,” the piece read. “It was also a way to distinguish him from his maternal grandfather, Robert Williams.”

“While congressman and would-be Senator Beto apparently found the Hispanic nickname advantageous in some ways in local and statewide Texas races (ironically, sometimes in contests opposed to those of authentic Latino ancestries), his continued use of Beto suggests that he thinks it also resonates, at the least, an empathy for assumed marginalized peoples, and at the most offers some confusion to less well-informed voters over whether he is in fact Latino himself,” Hanson wrote in the article, published earlier this month.

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“Add in the fact that Beto is also a child of both inherited and maritally acquired wealth and what he would call ‘white privilege’ that likely kept him as a sometimes reckless youth out of jail on one occasion for a serious crime. Thus, in a bizarre way, the misleading nickname offers some concrete authenticity to his chronic resentment of the very privilege he has for so long enjoyed.”

Alas, this is a cheap gimmick that probably isn’t resonating with Latino voters — in particular Mr. Duarte — because of stuff like this:

For privileged white liberals, however, this cheap gimmick could still pay dividends.

As Hanson wrote, “O’Rourke’s use of Beto seems ipso facto to suggest that he privately believes in general that Americans of all backgrounds (including a supposed 70 percent white electorate) either do not care whether a candidate is so-called white or, more likely, are intrigued by or admire those who are not — again, sort of refuting Beto’s entire premise of an intolerant and all-powerful white-supremacist society.”

However, it’s a message that resonates with that demographic in 2019 — the same way that the name does, too.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture