September 12, 2005

Bush unpopular in South America, poll shows

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - A majority of South Americans
in four of the region's capitals have a negative opinion of
U.S. President George W. Bush, according to an opinion survey
released on Monday.

Fifty-three percent of South Americans described their
perception of the U.S. leader as "bad" or "very bad," according
to a poll conducted by the Santiago-based think-tank Facultad
Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales.

Many of the 2,362 people polled disagree with the Bush
administration's "war on terror" and feel the U.S. government
is out of touch with the region's woes like corruption, poverty
and drug trafficking, said David Alvarez, a political scientist
who organized the survey.

"Latin Americans feel that (terror) issues are not the
biggest problems facing our region," Alvarez said. "There is a
big difference in the terrorist vision and the social problems
many feel are plaguing Latin America."

Bush, who speaks some Spanish, promised to put Latin
America at the top of his agenda when he was first elected. But
the war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks put
America's so-called "backyard" on the White House's backburner.

The survey - conducted in the capital cities of Argentina,
Brazil, Chile and Uruguay - showed that Buenos Aires ranked as
the city where Bush is most unpopular, with six out of ten
Argentines saying they disapproved of him.

Residents in the Chilean capital of Santiago had the most
favorable opinion of Bush, the poll showed -- 19 percent
approved of Bush and 40 percent rejected him.

Chile is considered the region's model economy and has had
a free trade agreement with the United States since early last

Argentina, on the other hand, suffered its worst economic
crisis on record in 2001-2002 and many Argentines feel the
United States pulled the plug on a badly-needed financial aid
package from the International Monetary Fund in their worst

The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.