President Barack Obama has a 61 percent approval rating in Latin America, a December Gallup Poll finds. The poll, reflecting public opinion in 17 countries between July and September 2009, also showed that support for U.S. Leadership in Latin America increased from 39 percent in 2008 to 51 percent this year. Meanwhile, Obama’s domestic approval rating dropped to 47 percent on Dec. 9.
Support for Obama was strongest in Chile, where 72 percent of respondents had a favorable image of the U.S. President, and in Colombia (68 percent) and Uruguay (64 percent). Obama’s approval rating was lowest in Paraguay (40 percent), Nicaragua (42 percent), Bolivia (46 percent), and Venezuela (48 percent).
The poll is released as Latin American leaders, notably Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, have stepped up criticism for U.S. policy in the hemisphere. Obama has been criticized for recognizing the election of Porfirio Lobo in Honduras, failing to quickly close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and moving forward with plans to expand U.S. presence in military bases in Colombia.