Poll: Latin Americans' optimism strong, despite concerns about crime, poverty

The annual Latinobarómetro survey found that Latin Americans are more confident in government than Europeans, are worried about crime and the economy, and are not fans of Fidel Castro.

By , Staff writer

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    Cable cars are seen at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 24. The Complexo do Alemao Cable Railway was inaugurated in July 2011 and have the capacity to transport 30,000 people a day, helping residents shorten their commutes and offering a new route.
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Throughout the global financial crisis, concerns about unemployment, and political confrontation including a coup, Latin America remained as a whole optimistic about its progress – underscored, oddly, by a drop in that optimism.

In 2011, as politics and economic troubles have stabilized, Latin Americans' perception of progress fell four points – the first drop in six years. But that may be because so much progress has been made in recent years that expectations and incomes have grown, giving people an opportunity to turn a critical eye to other areas like health care and education, says Latinobarómetro executive director Marta Lagos.

Overall, Latin Americans today support the consolidation of democracy in the region but are less satisfied with a host of policy issues, from the way their taxes are spent to the availability of housing. "As there are higher education levels, there are higher expectations and demands grow," says Ms. Lagos. "It is the growing expectations ... of an already mobilized middle class."

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The Latinobarómetro survey, the largest of its kind for measuring attitudes and perceptions in the region over time, has been published annually since 1995, and polls residents of 18 Latin American nations. Among the 2011 poll findings:

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