L.A. Elites Optimistic

A poll realized by Zogby International and cosponsored by the University of Miami’s School of Communications shows that Latin American elites are increasingly optimistic about their economies, as well as unimpressed by Washington’s management of relations with the region.  Though an analysis of the poll was published exclusively by Newsweek, the results have created waves in other sources.

The poll surveyed 603 nearly equal parts of Latin American politicians, government officials, academics and journalists, the vast majority with university degrees.  The results, which have a 4% margin of error, are being compared to a similar Zogby poll taken in 2002.   The poll asked general questions about the respondents’ beliefs regarding economics, trade and international trade relations, opinions about an FTAA, the popularity of various presidents, and the importance of regional integration. 

In the older poll, only 7% of respondents said that they would characterize their national economies as ”good” or ”excellent,” a number which has risen to 43% in the new poll.  The newer survey also found 81 percent expect improvement in the coming years.  53% said they thought Latin America was on the "right track" though what exactly that ”right track” constituted was not part of the poll. 

The results shows topics of agreement and conflict between elites, but both left and right give little praise for Washington’s involvement in the region.  86 % of respondents, 81% of whom described their political views as being from the right, characterized Washington’s handling of relations with Latin America as being either "fair" (48%) or "poor" (38 %).  The respondents also rated Europe, Asia and the Mideast as trade partners of quickly growing importance in comparison to that of the US.  However, 66% respondents strongly supported a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) that would include the United States. 

Still, 59% of respondents, and a majority in each country, thought it was more important for their country’s economy to be integrated with other Latin American countries than with the US.