In Latin America, the U.S. has never been this unpopular
DISCUSSIONS | June 05, 2006
Alma Guillermoprieto, Mexico
2005 Nieman fellow; author and free-lance writer
Latin Americans have always had a highly ambivalent relationship with their northern neighbor. On the one hand, it is the source of many of the things they enjoy and covet in life: cars, movies, music, clothes and, even for someone like Subcomandante Marcos, many ideas that were not part of the traditional leftist agenda – gay rights, animal rights, and to a large degree, even Indian rights. On the other hand, even the most ultraconservative Latin Americans will always fear and resent U.S. power to some degree. When that power is used recklessly, as it tragically has been so often, all good-will efforts on the part of the United States are useless.
You ask how perceptions of the United States have changed since September 11. I would say that the horrifying killings of that day earned the United States some considerable measure of sympathy. But all of that was destroyed with the invasion of Iraq. I don't think the United States has ever been so universally unpopular, among rich and poor, conservative and progressive alike – not in my lifetime, at least.
On a different note, the recent mass demonstrations across the U.S., involving Latinos principally, have been seen here in Mexico with enormous pride, as if the citizens expelled by Mexican poverty were somehow redeeming everyone here too.