Americans’ Ignorance of Latin America

In this week’s Corridor’s of Power, Roland Flamini reports:

LULA WHO? SAY MOST AMERICANS — There’s an old journalism adage that says Americans are willing to do anything for neighboring Latin America, except read about it. Nothing much has changed in that regard, according to a new Zogby Interactive poll. Having surveyed 7,362 adults nationwide, Zogby concludes that Americans “show a stunning ignorance” about the region. Only 10 percent of online poll respondents said they were familiar with Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, the second-term president of Brazil. Twenty percent recognized the name of Felipe Calderon, the president of Mexico.

The poll showed 56 percent of adults feel the United States should remove travel restrictions on Cuba, and end the economic embargo. Fifty-eight percent believed that the United States should start talking to the Cubans. Respondents also placed Colombia as number three in a list of countries that were least friendly to the United States. Colombia has been one of America’s closest allies — and the beneficiary of half-a-billion U.S. dollars a year to fight drugs. Only 26 percent of American adults think President Bush has done a good job in handling U.S. relations with Latin America, and 29 percent thought the president was doing an adequate job. But, given the level of ignorance about the region, how valid can their judgment be?

For a somewhat more optimistic take on the polling firm’s conclusions, see this critique Zogby posted on its Web site.

Also in this week’s Corridor’s of Power: no more afternoon bullfighting on Spanish TV; the Catholic Church in China; and Cecilia Sarkozy’s privacy.