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Weekly Chart: How Latin America Views the United States in the Trump Era

November 09, 2017

A year after Donald Trump stunned much of the world with a poll-defying electoral win, Latin Americans are having a hard time warming up to him. On November 7, Latinobarómetro released the latest edition of an 18-country survey that’s been grading U.S. presidents since 2005 and found that the first year of the Trump presidency gets the lowest marks recorded—just 2.7 on a scale of 0 to 10. In fact, Latin Americans actually have a higher opinion of the deceased Fidel Castro than they do of the current U.S. president.

But even if it’s little surprise that Latin Americans have their doubts about the current Oval Office occupant, the study does offer some results that may be less expected. The fact that Mexicans’ approval of the United States tumbled the most—dropping 29 percent—isn’t exactly a shocker, given that the country is facing contentious NAFTA renegotiations with Washington and has largely been a punching bag for Trump since the day he launched his campaign.

On the other hand, Mexico may well be pulling down the average. Sure, the percentage of Latin Americans who have a “good” or “very good” opinion of the United States dropped seven points, from 74 percent to 67 percent. But the current figure is higher than it was in 2015 during the Obama presidency. A couple of countries even saw opinions improve—by one point in Colombia and three points in Ecuador.

Still, the study shows Washington needs to keep an eye on how Latin America views it as a global power. The region still prefers the United States, but China is on the rise, jumping 14 points to 60 percent approval since 2015. And Latin Americans are liking the European Union even more: positive opinion of the EU rose from 46 percent in 2016 to 64 percent this year.

Introduction by Carin Zissis.