In four of Mercosur country members’ capitals (BrasÀlia, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago) over 50% have a “bad” or “very bad” opinion of President George Bush and only 12% support him according to an opinion poll done by the Latinamerican Social Sciences Faculty, Flacso.
“The Latinamerican public opinion is based on the perception that United States is very unilateral, makes decision without consulting and is capable of intervening in the world in spite of the international community opinion”, explained Claudio Fuentes from Flacso and Ph.D. in Political Science.
“Actually over 70% of the population in the region considers the United States an imperialist country”
“The Iraq issue has President Bush representing an almost colonialist attitude”, added Professor Sergio Berenstein from the Di Tella University.
However to understand why Argentina has the most negative public opinion, besides the current Iraq war and Mr. Bush’s personality – considered an invasive leader – “there’s also an anti American background factor to add”, explains Mr. Berenstein.
“Argentines seem to be naturally anti American and many Argentines see a significant influence of the United States behind the Washington consensus (open markets and privatizations) and this is highly negative”.
While for the Bush administration the top of the foreign relations agenda is security, for most Latinamericans the priority is combating poverty, followed by fighting crime and unemployment, according to the results of the opinion poll.
“There’s no syntony between the US problems and those of the main Mercosur member countries,” points out David Alvarez a Chilean political scientist.
In Santiago, Buenos Aires, Brasilia and Montevideo, only 20% consider terrorism a very “serious problem”, while poverty, unemployment, corruption, crime are “extremely serious” for 60% of those interviewed.
Furthermore a majority of Latinamericans, 60%, believes the region is not a priority for the United States.
However there’s an interesting contradiction here since on the one hand the US is considered “imperialist”, on the other hand public opinion seems to be demanding more US help for development.
The opinion poll was done last July just a few days after the London bombing which left 56 people killed and scores injured. The two pillars of US historic foreign policy, defending peace and democracy, do not convince Mercosur citizens.
Over 70% of interviews replied that they didn’t believe the US promoted peace and 50% said they believed Washington was not helping expand democracy.
However the political scientists indicated that the Latinamerican stand is in line with world perception. Actually 72% of Europeans do not agree or disapprove US foreign policy.
But the poll also showed that Latinamericans’ opinion could change towards the end of the Bush administration. The region’s vision of the US is subordinated to the figure of whoever occupies the White House.
This article appeared originally in Mercopress ”“ www.mercopress.com.