It’s probably not a shocker that a lot of Mexicans don’t think too fondly of the US right now. The number of offenses President Donald Trump has conferred on Mexico is too long to list.
But if you need a quick recap, here are a few: he referred to his southern neighbors as “bad hombres” and “rapists”; insists repeatedly Mexico will pay for a border wall it doesn’t want; and took away legal protections for hundreds of thousands of Mexican-born immigrants living in the US since they were kids.
Now, the Pew Research Center published a study on Thursday that confirms what many people probably suspected: Mexicans’ perceptions of the US are really bad. They’re even worse when you consider the change from just two years ago.
According to Pew, in 2015, 66 percent of Mexicans viewed their northern neighbor favorably and 29 percent had unfavorable views. Now, it's flipped around — 65 percent of Mexicans view the US unfavorably and 30 percent view the country favorably.
Pew Research Center
The poll was conducted among 1,000 people in Mexico from March 2 to April 10 of this year. (So it was taken before Trump hurt Mexico yet again by waiting three days to send condolences after both a massive earthquake and a hurricane struck the country.)
So, does the blame for so much of the latest sour feelings really fall on President Trump? It seems that way.
Take Marco Arrendondo. He’s 33 and an architect who lives in Mexico City. He never was a big fan of the US. He says Mexico has always relied on the US in a way that fostered resentment among Mexicans. But Arrendondo says his feelings toward the country have gotten a lot worse with Trump.
“Trump is truly someone who disgusts me,” he says.
Alejandro Hope, a political analyst in Mexico City, says the “Trump effect,” as he calls it, has real world implications for the neighboring countries at a time when they are negotiating over issues ranging from the North American Free Trade Agreement to the proposed border wall.
“The Mexican government will have to maintain a hard-line position, more so than they would have in other circumstances,” Hope says. “It has a smaller margin of maneuvers to try to placate Trump.”
He adds that the overwhelming negative attitudes toward the US mean any concessions on Trump’s planned border wall “is completely out of the question” for the Mexican government.
But relationships aren’t straightforward, either in romance or international affairs.
Fifty-four percent of respondents who hold a negative view of the US say life is better for Mexicans who move there. Basically, they dislike the US but still think life is better there.
At the same time, fewer Mexicans are willing to live in the US without proper documentations. Just 13 percent of respondents said they would do that, compared to 20 percent two years ago.
Of course, there are lots of Mexicans who have positive attitudes toward the US — even if that number is rapidly declining. So who are those 30 percent of people?
According to the poll, they tend to be men, ages 18 to 29, who have higher incomes and more education. Mexicans who live within 200 miles of the border, and those with some connection to the US, also tend to have more positive attitudes.
The Mexican government has made efforts to continue a tradition of reaching out to the US, including recently offering "full solidarity" and assistance to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, even as President Trump has made anti-Mexico remarks. But after a deadly earthquake and another hurricane struck parts of Mexico — and the US president failed to give prompt condolences — the Latin American neighbor withdrew its offer for help with Harvey saying it needed those resources for its own recovery efforts.
As for Mexicans' fast-rising disapproval rating, people are finding ways to blow off steam. Like beating a Trump piñata on a busy Mexico City thoroughfare, or creating an effigy of him to burn on Easter. And with Mexican Independence Day on Saturday, there may be a few more creative ways of destroying the nemesis leader to the north.