MEXICO CITY — Nothing against the neighbors, really. Mexico's outgoing President Felipe Calderon has suggested that the United States of Mexico change its name to, well, just plain Mexico.
"It is time for us Mexicans to reclaim the beauty and simplicity of our country's name: Mexico. A name we chant, we sing, that fills us with joy and pride," Calderon said last week, in the waning days of his term.
Mexico, which means Navel of the Moon in the indigenous Nahuatl language, was called the Mexican Empire after independence from Spain in 1821.
But since 1824, it has been called the United States of Mexico, its federalist model copied from the United States' next door.
Calderon said it was time for Mexico to stop imitating other nations as it did back in the 19th century.
But his idea has spawned widespread criticism.
"A president who really was not able to change the country for the better ... in the end said, OK, if we can't really change it, let's change its name," historian Lorenzo Meyer told local media.
Around the turn of the 20th century, then president Porfirio Diaz lamented: "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States," its North American neighbor, which took much of its former territory.