South of South of the Border (because Mexico is the only Latin American country in many North Americans' minds), this is the version of the rest of Spanish, Portuguese and very rarely French speaking countries of America in fiction. That's in case there is even a non-Spanish speaking one, because everybody knows that The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires, right? One big country with different names at best, where the temperature is warm all year round, the buildings are old and rustic, Christianity really is Catholic, and everyone is dirt poor outside of The Cartel and the petty military dictator whose megalomania is inversely proportional to the actual power of his armies (still beats life in Africa, though). Where the universally brown population is made of Tall, Dark, and Handsome Latin Lovers, feisty well-figured women, simple but magnificently moustached men, Street Urchins, and more American missionaries, doctors, scientists and naive tourists than you can shake an M16 at. Also a good place to find great big wildlife, be it of Earth origin (American or not) or extra-terrestrial. The Banana Republic part is now fairly inaccurate in Real Life. It's rather a historic penchant for getting in this kind of situation that created the trope. Nothing to do with Ancient Rome. See also: Useful Notes On Latin America. Compare Spexico.
open/close all folders
- The Marvel G.I. Joe comics featured the fictional Banana Republic of Sierra Gordo.
- The main Marvel universe has Santo Rica, the republic with a Spanish grammatically incorrect name.
- Wally Wood's Sally Forth regularly had adventures in fictional Latin American countries, such as Rio de Gringo and the Republic of San Forizo.
- Predator is set in the jungles of fictional Val Verde.
- Bogota got this treatment in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). The locals were not very pleased.
- San José, Costa Rica in Jurassic Park. Because certainly a small modern city in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains looks like a Hawaiian beach resort.
- In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy claims he learned Quechua... while fighting in Pancho Villa's army. He also finds a Mayincatec temple deep in the Brazilian Amazon, built by the "Ugha" people after Ancient Astronauts taught then complicate matters they were apparently too stupid to discover on their own, like farming.
- People who got offended by the representation of Peru in Crystal Skull are not advised to read Frank Darabont's earlier draft Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods, where the portrayal is so over the top that people accused Darabont of being racist.note
- On the 2007 movie The Reaping, the Chilean city of Concepcion is depicted as a tropical location inside a Banana Republic.
- Romancing the Stone, set in Colombia.
- Selena: Jennifer Lopez is American, of Puerto Rican ancestry, and not a fluent speaker of Spanish. This caused a small uproar when she portrayed the Mexican-American singer Selena. Who had also not been a fluent Spanish speaker; her first and fluent language was English. She had only learned Spanish after phonetically singing it, and was never entirely fluent in it.
- The Steven Seagal direct-to-video vehicle Submerged, alledgely set in Uruguay but filmed in Bulgaria. The background jumps from using the Argentinian flag to the Uruguayan and back again as if they were one and the same, and a Mayan temple in a jungle supposely near Montevideo appears at one pointnote .
- Invoked by Don Cheadle's character in Crash. He cuts short a phone call with his mother because he's "having sex with a white woman." He later remarks that she's Mexican. His girlfriend, who is Hispanic but not Mexican, is not amused.
- Her father came from El Salvador and her mother from Puerto Rico-she helpfully points out, "Neither of those is Mexico." His response: "The question we have to ask ourselves is-who gathered together those remarkably different cultures and taught them all to park their cars on their lawns?" in keeping with its theme of "insult every ethnicity imaginable."
- Similarly in Clueless, Cher makes her maid Lucy talk to the gardener for her, and tells her it's because Cher doesn't speak "Mexican". This infuriates Lucy, as she is from El Salvador, which Josh explains. Cher doesn't get what the big deal is; Josh points out that Cher gets mad if anyone thinks she lives below Sunset.
- Agualar in the second Finnegan Zwake book is one of these.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude, written by an author who actually comes from Colombia, is set in a unnamed Banana Republic with all the trappings (dictatorships, rebels, old decrepit towns, and an actual banana plantation) plus An Aesop about why capitalism is bad.
- Actually those vague descriptions fit with pretty much all Latin American countries — except of course, the dictatorships which were common back in the time García Marquez wrote the book but not anymore. Gabriel García Marquez was certainly trying to appeal to all such nations.
- Actually no, it is just Colombia. The geographical location of Macondo is quite specific: South of La Guajira, passing Cienga. Macondo is just Aracataca with another name. If you want this trope by Garcia Marquez then you have to check The Autumn of the Patriarch.
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is set in an unspecified small country in South America that is supported—just barely—by exporting narcotics. It was based on the hostage situation in Peru (the Trope Namer for Lima Syndrome).
- On Heroes and Tombs: Set in Buenos Aires, but inverted to non-Hispanics in that the descriptions would fit New York very well. "City of the Pessimists"
- In Isabel Allendeís novel The House of the Spirits, the actual name of the country is never said, although it is generally accepted that it is the authorís native Chile. Nevertheless, the description and situations could easily happen in any South American country.
- MacGyver, a number of occasions.
- The Sentinel
- One episode of JAG in season 1 takes place in the U.S. Embassy in Peru, and another episode in season 2 takes partially place in the U.S. Embassy in Colombia.
- Harm and Mac go to Panama in "The Colonel's Wife".
- Also multipart adventures in Paraguay in season 8/9
- Played for laughs with Catalina's unnamed native country in My Name Is Earl, which is made of whatever over the top stereotypes about Latin America the writers have in mind in the moment.
- In an example of Negative Continuity, Catalina angrily told Joy that she was not Mexican when she called her that, but was later deported to Mexico (the South of the Border version) when she was discovered to be an illegal immigrant. A green card marriage later, she appeared on TV where she was said to be from La Paz, Bolivia.
- The new show "Off The Map" begins- Somewhere in South America.
- As does an episode of Human Target, even though it is obviously filmed in Canada. Guerrero handwaves it by saying that they are near the Andes and it is too cold to run around in a t-shirt.
- In an episode of Six Feet Under a Mexican-American family comes to Fisher and Sons to bury their son who was killed in a gang shooting. Nate asks Rico to deal with them, since Rico is Hispanic. Rico takes offense — because Nate assumes that he knows how to deal with gangs, but also because Rico is Puerto Rican, not Mexican.
- Oswaldo Witalcoche (aka El Machupichu), the Beleaguered Assistant of racist bartender Mauricio Colmenero in the Spanish sitcom Aída, started as a generic charicature of low-income Latin American immigrants in Spain. Eventually, the writers settled on him being Ecuadorian (the largest Latin American community in Spain), after which his early references to Tenochtitlan or his tendency to insult people by calling them a "son of Pizarro" ceased to make sense.
- An unusual African example happens in White Collar's two-parter episode "Wanted"/"Most Wanted", in which Neal hides from the FBI in Cape Verde. The episode is filmed entirely in Puerto Rico and there is no attempt to hide it. So while Cape Verde is correctly stated to be a former Portuguese colony, everyone speaks Spanish and has Spanish names. And in spite of Cape Verde being off the coast of Africa and a former hub of the Slave Trade, with a 78% Creole and 21% Black population, the only black people seen are the American FBI agents trying to find Neal.
- Swedish singer/poet/whatever Evert Taube had many songs set in Latin Land (especially Argentina)
- Chicago-based alt-rock band The Biochem Wars has two songs (See the Red Sun and Waves and Rocks, Sea and Fire) set in Costa Rica, inspired by a hiking excursion the lead singer took there.
- Carlos Santana is of Mexican descent, but his musical style embraces cultural strains from throughout Central and South America and even the Caribbean, including places where there is little to no Spanish influence.
- The board game "Junta" is set in "La Republique De Los Bannanos" and revolves around various high-level functionaries in the place trying to get as much foreign aid money into their secret Swiss bank accounts as possible.