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Roto, depreciative word used in Chile to refer to people of the "lower" classes. The word carries negative connotations regarding rural Mestizos in the south of Chile, although it is sometimes used informally in a more affectionate context. The term may have been used for the first time during the sixteenth century to refer to the Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia who on his return to Peru, was dressed in rags, a roto. The roto also has been a recurring figure in Chilean literature since the nineteenth century. Joaquín Edwards Bello's El Roto published in 1920 looks at the criminal life of the roto, but also suggests that this figure has good qualities and can be redeemed with proper education.

See alsoCaste and Class Structure in Colonial Spanish America; Conquistadores.


Rodolfo Lenz, Diccionario etimológico (1910).

Additional Bibliography

Stephens, Thomas M. Dictionary of Latin American Racial and Ethnic Terminology. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1989.

Vergara-Mery, Alvaro R. "Espacio, marginalidad, disidencia y homosociabilidad del roto en la narrativa chilena." Ph.D. diss., Arizona State University, 2001.

                                         Kristine L. Jones