Getting The “United States” Out Of Mexico

Mexico’s President thinks it’s time to change the country’s name:

MEXICO CITY — With just over a week left in office, the president of Mexico has offered perhaps the boldest proposal of his six-year tenure. He wants Mexico to just be “Mexico.”

The formal name of the country is Estados Unidos Mexicanos, often translated as “United Mexican States” or “United States of Mexico.”

It is the “Estados Unidos” that nags at President Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa (called just “Lipe” by some) and he wants it out, once and for all. It happens to be the Spanish name of the big neighbor up north, and that is no accident.

Mexico was christened with the longer formal name in the early 19th century after independence from Spain, inspired by the democratic example next door. Other names considered at the time, noted Mr. Calderón, a fan of history, were Mexican Empire and Republic of Mexico. (“México” is derived from the Nahuatl word for the region.)

Now it is time, he said, for Mexico to step out of the shadow of the United States, at least in name.

“Mexico does not need a name that emulates another country and that none of us Mexicans use every day,” he said Thursday at a morning announcement at the presidential residence.

“Mexico is the name that corresponds to the essence of our nation. Pardon the expression, but the name of Mexico is Mexico.”

Making it so, however, will take a constitutional change.

With Mr. Calderón leaving office on Dec. 1, the prospects seemed uncertain; his office did not respond to questions on why he proposed the shift only now.

Associates have said he is looking for work in the United States after he leaves office, but Mr. Calderón is not known to particularly love the country and never shies from using it as a political whipping boy. He chose to make his announcement as the United States of America celebrated Thanksgiving Day.

Still, it is not an entirely new idea. Such a name change has been proposed occasionally in the past but without getting very far. “With so many real problems in this country, I don’t think that it matters,” said Enrique Krauze, a leading historian and political analyst. “No one ever calls Mexico anything other than Mexico.”

Word is that Calderon would also like to stop Taco Bell from calling anything it sells Mexican food.

FILED UNDER: Latin America, World Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Janis Gore says:

    That Taco Bell riff — good idea!

  2. Andre Kenji says:

    Brazil was also called “United States of Brazil”(Estados Unidos do Brasil) from 1889 to 1967. Today is Federative Republic of Brazil(Republica Federativa do Brasil). Mexico could do the same process easily.

    Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico are the only Latin American countries that are divided in states, not in provinces or departments.

  3. Erik Berls says:

    Some of us would prefer if Taco Bell stopped calling what it sold “food”. ­čśë

  4. Tony W says:

    @Erik Berls: Yeah, but sometimes you only have a buck to spend….