MEXICO

President Felipe Calderon seeks official name change to just 'Mexico'

Calderon seeks to take 'United States' out of nation's official name before he leaves office

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:14am

Mexico's president is making one last attempt to get the "United States" out of Mexico - at least as far as the country's name is concerned.

The name "United Mexican States," or "Estados Unidos Mexicanos," was adopted in 1824 after independence from Spain in imitation of Mexico's northern neighbour, but it is rarely used except on official documents, money and other government material.

Still, President Felipe Calderon called a news conference on Thursday to announce he wants to make the name simply "Mexico". His country did not need to copy anyone, he said.

Calderon first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003, but the bill did not make it to a vote.

The new constitutional reform he proposed would have to be approved by both houses of Congress and a majority of Mexico's 31 state legislatures.

However, Calderon leaves office on December 1, raising the question of whether his proposal is a largely symbolic gesture. His proposal was widely mocked on Twitter as a ridiculous parting shot from a lame-duck president.

Calderon said that while the name change "doesn't have the urgency of other reforms", it should be seen as a relevant issue. "Mexico doesn't need a name that emulates another country and that no one uses on a daily basis," he said.

The US looms larger than perhaps any other country in the Mexican cultural imagination: Mexicans follow US sports teams, watch US television shows and buy US-made products.

But, for many, there is also resentment of a larger and more powerful northern neighbour that is often seen as ignoring or looking down its nose at Mexico.