Mérida – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the 4th most popular president in the Americas, according to a new study of presidential approval ratings in the region.
The study, by Mexican polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, gives President Chavez a “high” approval rating of 64%, gaining 6 percentage points since the firm’s last study and jumping up the table of presidential popularity levels.
The findings come less than two weeks before Chavez seeks re-election on October 7 against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.
According to the study, which measured the approval ratings of 20 leaders in the Americas by compiling public opinion polls from their respective countries, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is the most popular president in the Americas with an “outstanding” approval rating of 80%.
“Rafael Correa repeats his first place with 80% (a point less than his previous evaluation), maintaining the approval with which his presidency began almost five years ago,” the ‘Approval of Leaders: America and the World’ report stated.
He is followed by Maurico Funes of El Salvador and Guatemalan president Otto Perez, on 72% and 69% respectively.
Chavez and Correa are joined at the top of the popularity table by other presidents considered left or centre left, with Brazil’s Dilma Roussef on 5th with 62% approval, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega on 7th place with a popularity of 59%.
Meanwhile, two months ahead of his re-election bid against Republican rival Mitt Romney, US President Barack Obama placed 10th in the study, receiving a “medium” approval rating of 49%. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was classed on a “very low” popularity of 37%, putting him down on 16th place.
The study highlights a north-south divide, with South American presidents enjoying an average approval of 50%, against 44% for leaders from the North of the hemisphere.
Many rightist presidents have dropped in popularity since the earlier 2012 study by Consulta Mitofsky, and find themselves on the bottom half of the table. Colombian president Juan Manual Santos still figures on the top half of the table with 54% approval, yet has dropped 13 percentage points and has lost his “high” approval rating.
Furthermore, Mexico’s Felipe Calderon placed 11th (46%), while Paraguayan President Federico Franco and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera share 17th place on 36%. Franco was came to power through an “institutional coup” in June by the Paraguayan Senate, and is less popular than deposed leftist president Fernando Lugo, who had 44% popularity in August 2011.
However, the findings aren’t all good news for South America’s “pink tide” governments, with 12th, 13th, and 14th places going to Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (43%), Bolivia’s Evo Morales (41%) and Peru’s Ollanta Humala (40%) respectively.
The last places in the poll are occupied by the presidents of Honduras and Costa Rica, on approval ratings of 14% and 13%. The full study in Spanish can be accessed here.
- Ecuador’s Correa and El Salvador’ Funes, leaders with the highest approval-rate (en.mercopress.com)
The administration of Peru’s President Ollanta Humala last week introduced a bill to the country’s congress that would criminalize “Denial of Terrorist Violence,” imposing a prison term of up to eight years for publicly “approving, justifying, denying or minimizing” acts committed by “terrorist organizations.” Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said the “Law of Denialism” was necessary to “protect society,” citing the threat of “nuevo senderismo”—meaning the recent resurgence of activity by surviving factions of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, or SL) guerilla movement, with new civil front groups such as the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF) supposedly mobilizing in their support. He said the law would “avoid this process of justification of these behaviors, of this epoch of 20 years which was so hard for the country, which I reiterate has meant 70,000 deaths.” (Radio Programas del Peru, RPP, Aug. 28)
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), whose findings have never been accepted by the armed forces, issued a final report in 2003 on the toll of the 1980-2000 armed conflict in Peru. Annex 2, “How Many Peruvians Died?” (PDF), arrived a figure of 69,280 violent deaths during the period, of which 46% were attributed to the SL, 30% to “state agents,” and 24% to “other agents.” These included the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), a rival guerilla group; rondas campesinas (peasant self-defense patrols); and paramilitary groups (mostly with some degree of direction from the official security forces).
Opposition congress members Javier Diez Canseco (AP-Frente Amplio) and Heriberto Benítez (Solidaridad Nacional) responded to the proposed “Law of Denialism” by asserting that the law should also cover the actions of “state terrorism.” They said in a statement: “There were grave problems with Sendero and the MRTA, but the report of the CVR recognizes that there was also state terror and that [state] elements committed crimes against humanity. This project is problematic…and seeks to have an official version of what happened.” (La Republica, Aug. 27)
Longtime social struggle leader Hugo Blanco, who led an armed campesino movement in Cuzco in the 1960s, issued an open letter in response to the proposed law, stating: “SL and MRTA, at least at the beginning, sought to overturn the situation of oppression in which our people live. The experience of 20 years of internal war has sufficiently demonstrated that thanks to their actions, our people were more crushed than ever, as the system punished with massacres any social protest, characterizing it as terrorist. The internal war produced no improvement for the oppressed people, producing 70,000 deaths, as well as disappearances, torture, imprisonment, displacement. For this reason we censure the terrorism of SL and MRTA. [But] if this proposed law is approved, it should also impose punishment for those who deny state terrorism, which was much more criminal that that of the SL and MRTA. If these groups both committed terrorism to overturn the situation of oppression of our people, the terrorism of the state was carried out to guarantee the continuance of the oppression of the Peruvian people…” (Juan Esteban Yupanqui blog, Sept. 3)