Mexico Seeks to Change Name to Mexico

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has submitted a bill to change Mexico’s name to…Mexico.

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon, addresses world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2012 in New York City.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has submitted a bill to change Mexico’s name to…Mexico. Although the United States’ southern neighbor has long been called “Mexico” all over the world, the abbreviation is still unofficial and the country’s formal name remains the Estados Unidos Mexicanos — the United Mexican States.

The country became the “United Mexican States” when the republic was established in 1824 after it achieved independence from Spain. According to the BBC, the name was modeled after that of Mexico’s yanqui neighbor to the north.

President Calderón, whose term ends on Dec. 1, said he wants to make the seemingly innocuous change to show that the nation does not need to copy a foreign power, BBC News reports.

“The name of our country no longer needs to emulate that of other nations,” Calderon said at a news conference last Thursday, reported by the BBC. “Forgive me for the expression, but Mexico’s name is Mexico.”

(MORE: 10 Questions for Mexican President Felipe Calderón)

Although the current name is rarely used in conversation, it is printed on official documents and currency. Calderón apparently rallied to adopt its widely accepted alternate in 2003, when he was still a congressman, but the bill did not make it to a vote. In order to go into effect, the new bill must be approved by both congressional houses and by a majority of the country’s 31 state legislatures.

Calderón noted that the name change does not have the “urgency” of other reforms, and the Associated Press reports that many Mexicans view Calderón’s motion as a symbolic gesture and a final parting shot by an outgoing head of state. He cedes his office to the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s Enrique Peña Nieto next week.

(MORE: A Return to Power: Mexico’s PRI Tries to Sell Itself as the Party of the Future)

Calderón’s request to officially adjust his country’s name may be intended to serve the dual purpose of moving the republic out of the United States’ shadow of influence while continuing political efforts to restore national pride in a land rocked by violent drug crime. According to the Associated Press, government figures put the number of cartel-related deaths during Calderón’s term at 47,500. Many in the country believe the actual number is much higher, especially because the Calderón administration stopped issuing official statistics last year.

“It’s time for Mexicans to return to the beauty and simplicity of the name of our country, Mexico,” Calderon said. “A name that we chant, that we sing, that makes us happy, that we identify with, that fills us with pride.”

Still, if the change is approved, it’s hard to say how much of an effect it will have in the country—considering everyone already calls it Mexico.

(PHOTOS: Mexico’s Ongoing Drug Violence, by Shaul Schwarz)