According to polling from Excélsior, Mexicans favor belonging to an EU-style group with the US and Canada over a similar group with Latin American nations by a 65 to 21 percent margin. At the same time, 57 percent said that the group proposed in last week's meeting of Latin American leaders is a good thing, compared to just 31 percent who were opposed. Further confusing things, 38 percent said that they expected this new group to anger the US, and the US to respond by punishing Mexico in some way. Another 30 percent said that the US would get angry but do nothing. So despite the fact that 65 percent said that belonging to a group including the US was the best course for Mexico, and 68 percent said that the new group would anger the US, 57 percent said that it was still a good thing for Mexico to be involved.
The poll also includes perceptions of Mexico's importance in the international community, which have fallen off the charts under Calderón's term. To the question, do you think Mexico has more international prestige than it previously did, only 36 percent said yes, a 15-point drop from the high during Calderón's term. Under Fox, those responding yes fluctuated between 73 and 61 percent, while under Zedillo, the range was 54 and 74 percent. In other words, Mexicans think less of their nation's role in international affairs than they have in a generation. Calderón hatred can't answer for all of this: the 36 percent saying yes falls short of even the most pessimistic approval ratings for Calderón. Furthermore, thanks to the 1994-95 economic crisis, Zedillo was historically unpopular, and yet Mexico's image in the community of nations didn't suffer. Calderón has snagged a place on the UN security council and Mexico will host a major climate change meeting later this year, so it's not like the Calderón years have been without obvious demonstrations (empty though they may be) of other nations' awareness of Mexico. Maybe the comparatively Herculean influence of Brazil under Lula makes Mexico seem ever smaller. Or perhaps Mexicans are painfully aware of how much international press is devoted to stories about drug runners.