Monday, November 3, 2003
Latin Americans rate U.S.A. and Mexico presidents
By Barnard R. Thompson
The University of Miami School of Business
Administration and Zogby International, from August 20 to October 2, surveyed “elites” — “defined
as high/middle-high income respondents with special knowledge of their area of interest” — in six Latin American
countries regarding their views on national and regional leadership, democracy, institutional confidence and economic outlooks. And according to Mexican news reports on the same, of the 537 academics, government
officials, business executives and journalists polled (in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela), an excruciating
87 percent of the opinion leaders believe that President George W. Bush is doing a mediocre to poor job as far as Latin America
is concerned. Only 12 percent see Bush as making good to excellent efforts in
In fact, the disapproval rating for Bush is
worse than that of Venezuela’s would-be despot Hugo Chávez [75 percent] and Fidel Castro [68 percent]. Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, honeymooning in his first year as president of Brazil, ranks highest
with a 69 percent approval mark. Argentina’s Néstor Kirchner is second
highest in the job approval ratings, with a positive opinion among 56 percent of those surveyed, while Ricardo Lagos of Chile
comes in a close third at 55 percent.
But the respondents also hammered Mexican
President Vicente Fox Quesada, the quintessential showpiece in similar polling last year.
A Zogby International news release (October
28, 2003) states, in part:: “In October 2002 University of Miami Business Administration/Zogby International polling,
Latin elites overwhelmingly chose Mexico’s President Vincente (sic) Fox as the leader with the most positive effect
on democracy [77 percent] and as the best model for leadership on the continent [31 percent].
This year, only 34 percent say he has made good progress in moving his country towards democracy and just 6 percent
choose Fox as the ideal model of leadership in Latin America.”
The Zogby message continues: “Mexican
elites, themselves, are much more likely to approve of the performance of Brazilian impresario da Silva [78 percent] than
their own Fox [38 percent]. In terms of progress in moving their country towards
democracy, Mexican elites rate Fox on par with Fidel Castro [27 percent each].”
Grupo Reforma, the Mexican media consortium,
conducts quarterly surveys to evaluate national approval or disapproval on the job performance of the president. The last Reforma public opinion polling was done in mid-August, when Fox received an approval rating of
57 percent. His disapproval level was 35 percent.
In February of 2001, when the first Reforma
survey was taken, the president had a positive grade of 70 percent. In March
2002 that national rating had dipped to 47 percent, however by the end of the year it had rebounded to 59 percent.
The University of Miami/Zogby poll ranked
Brazil’s da Silva, a socialist and former union boss, number one in not only the job approval category, but “as
a leader moving his nation towards democracy [45 percent] and as the best model for Latin American leadership [34 percent].” Those surveyed were also asked to rate democracy in their own countries. Brazilians are most satisfied, with 71 percent voicing approval, while 69 percent of those in Chile are
satisfied with democracy in their nation. Said approval ratings are dramatically
lower in Argentina [49 percent], Colombia [42 percent], Mexico [38 percent] and Venezuela [11 percent].
“Elites from Chile [86 percent], Argentina
[60 percent] and Brazil [61 percent] are most likely to have a positive outlook on the economy for the next 12 months,”
according to the Zogby release. “The elites of Venezuela and Mexico, whose
leaders were rated least favorably, also offer the most pessimistic economic outlook.
Half of Mexico’s elites [49 percent] say the economy has deteriorated over the past 12 months, compared to 12
percent who say conditions have improved. Over the next 12 months, 41 percent
of Mexican elites predict no change to the economy, while one third [34 percent] expect further deterioration. In Venezuela, there is deeper pessimism, with 84 percent saying economic conditions have deteriorated and
three in five [60 percent] expect continued deterioration,” the poll says.
As for public institutions, the respondents
expressed uppermost confidence in the church, armed forces and media, while voicing less faith in police, the judiciary and
their national legislatures. At the bottom of the spectrum is an overall 51 percent
disbelief in partisan politics, with Mexicans having the most acute national mistrust of political parties — 61 percent.