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Nearly half of Mexicans don’t think their government should’ve sent Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the US, and more than 60% think the Mexican government should’ve held on to him for negotiations with President Donald Trump.
The poll, conducted two days after Guzman was sent north on Jan. 19, queried 400 Mexicans about the kingpin’s extradition, with a margin of error of 4.9%.
The extradition was unexpected, and came just hours before Trump was sworn in on January 20.
Some assessed the timing to be a final gesture to President Barack Obama from the Mexican government. Mexicans were less convinced.
The poll found that 44% of Mexicans thought the extradition favored Trump, while just 18% saw it as favoring Obama. Nine percent of respondents said it favored both.
When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the extradition, 46% said they disagreed, while only 31% answered affirmatively.
While some parts of Mexico may hold Guzman in esteem, the disapproval of his extradition likely stems more from Mexicans’ rejection of both Trump and their own president, Enrique Peña Nieto, whose current approval rating is hovering in the teens.
The poll, conducted by Mexican media outfit Grupo Reforma, also found that 62% of Mexicans thought their government should’ve waited to deliver Guzman to the US in order to better negotiate with Trump; 25% of respondents said handing him over at the time was an act of good faith directed toward the incoming Trump administration.
The Mexican government’s motivation for the extradition remains unclear.
Coming with just a few hours left in Obama’s term, the move seemed to be “because they want to make sure President Obama gets credit for the extradition,” Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider at the time, citing conversations he had with Mexican officials.
“They didn’t want Trump to get credit,” Vigil said.
Those calculations appear to have amounted to little, however.
When asked whether they thought Guzman’s extradition would make Trump improve this position toward Mexico, just 14% said it would do so, while 79% said it would make no difference.
The first weeks of Trump’s term seem to have borne out the latter group’s pessimism.