Illustration by Avi

Op-Ed: El Cucuy y El Chupacabra Are Very Much Alive in the Rio Grande Valley

While Halloween is a time for dressing up in spooky costumes and having a good time with our RGV community, it’s also a time to face the monsters that dwell en nuestra tierra

For instance, growing up, we’d often hear the tales of El Cucuy and El Chupacabra, who would lurk around nearby, ready to take us away, especially after misbehaving. The Cucuy, in particular, was always kept as a mysterious creature of the night– the one in our nightmares lurking at the corners of our room.

Meanwhile, the Chupacabra dwelled in the fields of our ancestors, eagerly grasping at the flesh of the borregas, goats, that unfortunately became their dinner.

What if I told you that these mythological creatures that continue to haunt our dreams are actually real?

Who is El Chupacabra y El Cucuy?

In “Sucking Vulnerability: Neoliberalism, the Chupacabras, and the Post-Cold War Years,” William A. Calvo-Quirós argues that the Chupacabra, also known as the goatsucker, is a monster that terrorizes “farmers, barrios, and towns on both sides of the US-Mexico Border,” however, it also “represents a sophisticated entity that carries within it the violent struggles lived by communities of color.”


According to Benjamin Roussey, El Cucuy is the boogeyman monster found in Mexico. He is described as a frightening creature – small, misshapen, and hairy all over […and] is said to have large bat-like ears, red eyes that glow in the dark, and a set of large, razor-sharp teeth that can remind you of the barracuda fish.” These descriptions, however, differ across generations, people, Latinx, and Hispanic cultures. 


People within our RGV community have also expressed their own perceptions of what El Cucuy is: manifestations of our personal negative experiences, a shadow lurking close by at all times, and it has even disguised itself as people who have crossed their paths.

The Real Monsters of the RGV

So who are these monsters? Where do we find El Chupacabra y El Cucuy? Are they here with us in the RGV? Are they truly real?

Yes, they are. In fact, the Chupacabra and the Cucuy that dwell throughout the Rio Grande Valley are all around us. You can find them colonizing Boca Chica with Space X. They are Zoho and the Chamber capitalizing off the remnants of the McAllen Creative Incubator. They are the machismo men that continue to dwell within our culture, killing Latinas each and every year. They are the homophobic and transphobic people who slandered the Pride crosswalk in Brownsville and continue to terrorize our LGBTQIA+ community. They are the Biden administration planning to continue building walls along our borders. They are the government forces taking away our reproductive rights

This seems all too real and all too frightening. But more often than not, reality is scarier than fiction. These monsters, who are an integral part of our cultural zeitgeist, exist as reminders of nuestra resistencia contra nuestros opresores, our resistance against our oppressors. 

They were taught to us as children and continue to dwell as we grow to keep us on our toes, keep us alert. 

Because what better way than real monsters para ponernos trucha?