Recent allegations that the United States National Security Agency may have been spying on several Latin American countries has done little to improve the U.S.’s image abroad, but a new report from the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project shows that Uncle Sam has retained a favorable public image across the region.
U.S. public image is especially strong in El Salvador (79 percent), Brazil (73 percent), Chile (68 percent) and Mexico (66 percent). Brazilians and Mexicans in particular saw a notable spike in their favorable view of the United States.
Argentina remains the Latin American country with the lowest approval of the U.S., coming in at 41 percent. The report noted, however, that while a majority of Argentines surveyed did not have a favorable view of the superpower, the 41 percent is a large improvement over the 16 percent approval rating recorded in 2007.
Costa Rica was not surveyed for this report.
Young college-educated people in particular reported a favorable view of the U.S. In Argentina, for example, people aged 18-29 had a 49 percent favorable impression of the U.S. versus only 32 percent approval for people older than 50.
Latin America is no longer the United States’ backyard, but the U.S. remains more influential than China in the region. All countries surveyed except Venezuela opined that the United States had a “great deal” or “fair” amount of influence over their country and their economy compared to China.
While the U.S. may have more impact, respondents said that China’s influence was seen more positively than the United States. Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia were among those that saw Chinese influence in a rosy light.
During Chinese President Xi Jingping’s visit to Costa Rica in June, both countries’ leaders signed nearly $2 billion in trade and infrastructure projects, including the scuttled Moín refinery expansion project.
Since Costa Rica switched its recognition to mainland China over Taiwan in 2007, the world’s second-largest economy has gifted the country a new $100 million stadium and $25 million towards the construction of a National Police academy.
Popularity contests aside, most Latin Americans surveyed said that the U.S. was the more important country to have strong ties with.
Research for the 2013 Spring Pew Global Attitudes Survey was based on telephone and face-to-face interviews under the supervision of the Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Click here for a full breakdown of method by country.