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Latin Land

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Panama Canal Zone and Porto Rico (crop), Ruth Taylor
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 temperature is warm all year round, air has a yellow tinge, 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.

If you mix this trope with a shot of Tropical Island Adventure, you get Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and Haiti. If you mix it with a shot of Holiday in Cambodia, and substitute basketball for The Beautiful Game, you'll get something like the Philippines, though for what it's worth, that country is mixed with so many and so disparate cultural influences—owing to nearly 500 years of Western colonialism more pervasive than almost any other country in its region—that it's a challenge to even represent at all, let alone accurately, in most media; for one, almost all its ancient structures are Catholic churches. Because of this, among other reasons, the country comes off as looking like Asia's own special piece of Latin Land.

See also: Useful Notes On Latin America. Compare Spexico. Often linked to Developing Nations Lack Cities.


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    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • The real Philippines as depicted in Ang Barbaro, which is set in the late Spanish-colonial regime (with its Catholic churches and clergy and its effectively dictatorial governor-general), so a Justified Trope here.

    Fan Works 
  • The state of Paraquat, in the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal. Described as having jungle at one end where it borders Tezuma, then mountains, then wide rolling pampas plains which run on into land variously described as the Steppes or the Prairies depending on whose atlas you are looking at, and formetly a colonial outpost of Toleda. This is an all-inclusive Latin Land. It is of course benevolently ruled by The Generalissimo, currently Augusto Richochet.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Predator is set in the jungles of fictional Val Verde. The same Banana Republic of Val Verde appears in Commando and Die Hard 2.
  • 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.
    • On the other hand, the book does take care in portraying Costa Rica as a stable nation and leading economy in the region with notable achievements in nature conservation and health care. And, well, an Airforce, too.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • 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. For comparison, in Crystal Skull Oxley was put in a rural mental hospital run by nuns that looks more like a prison than a hospital. In City of the Gods, we are told that the whole country has no infrastructure to deal with the mentally ill, so he was used as an attraction in a travelling circus.
  • On the 2007 movie The Reaping, the Chilean city of Concepcion is depicted as a tropical location inside a Banana Republic.
  • Romancing the Stone is set in Colombia, but all the Hispanic characters speak with a Mexican accent due to the movie being filmed in Mexico.
  • 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, allegedly 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 supposedly 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.
  • Amigo, set in the Philippines just after breaking free from Spanish rule, consequently is full of very Catholic Filipinos, mostly with very Hispanic names. There's even a Spanish friar and soldiers!
  • Quezon's Game is set in Manila in the Philippines in the late 1930s just before World War II. In this era, though now under American colonial rule proper, Manila (and of course much of the Philippines with it) had been previously under Spanish rule for 300+ years, and so a lot of Hispanic or Latinoesque cultural trappings are evident, like the names, some architectural styles, and cobblestoned streets. note 
  • In the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, most of the action takes place in the fictional nation of Isthmus, which is blatantly based on Panama, the most famous isthmus in the world. The James Bond movies rarely fictionalize the countries he visits unless the nation gets an extremely unflattering portrayal, and Isthmus being every 80's Latin America stereotype in the book certainly qualifies.
  • Part of the joke in Team America: World Police, where one of the throw away foreign locations is the Panama Canal. All the natives are brown skinned, moustached, and dark haired, wearing stereotypical "Hispanic" dresses including a donkey driver in Mexican poncho and sombrero. They speak Spanish-sounding gibberish with the only intelligible line being ¡No me gusta! ("I don't like it!") said when they die in a flood.

  • Agualar in the second Finnegan Zwake book is one of these.
  • 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 Allende’s novel The House of the Spirits, the actual name of the country is never said, although it is generally accepted that it is the author’s native Chile. Nevertheless, the description and situations could easily happen in any South American country.
  • Santa Barbara, featured in several of John Masefield's adventure novels, including Sard Harker, Odtaa, and The Taking Of The Gry. Complete with its own megalomaniacal dictator, Don Lopez de Meruel. It also appears in the backstory of The Midnight Folk.
  • Any depiction of the Philippines during Spanish rule counts as this by default, even if that country is nominally in Asia:
    • Nínay definitely counts, as it was written in the early 1880s and published in 1885, when there was no hint that Spain would very suddenly lose control of its entire Asian colonial footprint only 13 years later.
    • "May Day Eve" features a typical upper-class Filipino household between the specific years of 1847 and 1890, explicitly still under Spanish rule, and featuring a central couple with very Latinesque dress, grooming, personality and mannerisms. It's even somewhat plausible that the characters might have Spanish blood, though this isn't a Foregone Conclusion in a colony still largely dominated by Asian genes.
  • American-era Philippine examples:
    • "Dead Stars", if we assume its setting to be contemporary, puts it within American colonial rule, but only a few decades removed from Spanish rule, hence its characters with Hispanic names (e.g. Alfredo Salazar, Esperanza, Julia Salas, etc.) and families with aristocratic bearing, who still use Gratuitous Spanish greetings on each other, and still attend very Catholic fiestas (though in fairness, the last is still true today).
    • Without Seeing The Dawn, while set in the American Philippines at the start of World War II in the Pacific, still retains features of this trope, and apart from the Chinese businessmen and signages in American English, it's chock-full of Catholics with (mostly) Hispanic given names and holding (mostly) Catholic rituals, such as weddings and funerals. Not to mention the obvious that said Catholics are mostly working as feudal peons on very Latinesque haciendas (plantations) controlled by abusive landlords—some of who actually have Spanish blood to boot!

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 of Latin America the writers have in mind at the moment. In an example of Negative Continuity, Catalina angrily told Joy that she was not Mexican when she called her that, yet was deported to Mexico (the South of the Border version) when she was found 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.
  • The Fox News Channel got into some trouble when it aired a report on the Central American refugee crisis in March 2019. The offending graphic mentioned that "[President] Trump cuts U.S. aid to three Mexican countries."
  • Parodied in The Boys with Homelander acting like Hispanic American Supersonic is Mexican despite him saying he's not, talking to him in Spanish and serving tacos at Supersonic's first meeting. It is not entirely clear if Homelander is ignorant, racist, bullying Supersonic as a proxy for his Old Flame Starlight, or a decent mix of all three.

  • 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.
  • The setting of "La Isla Bonita" by Madonna. The lyrics mention the samba, but that's a dance from Brazil—which, of course, Portuguese-speaking, even when the rest of the song explicitly indicates a clearly Spanish-speaking setting. It's in the title!
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.

  • While set in the Philippines, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino certainly counts, as it plays up as much as possible the Hispanic cultural legacy in Spain's sole Asian colony. It revolves around the wealthy elite families who lived in the Citadel City of Intramuros, Manila, prior to World War II, and it stands to reason that—even as an American colony by the setting of the play—the elites of the time retained the most of Spanish high culture left after the Spaniards were defeated and retreated in 1898.
  • Florodora presents an even more stereotypically-Latin Philippine settingnote , with many of the local girls, including Dolores, the lead, having typically Hispanic names and explicitly described as "Spanish Girls" in the script, even if there's an even chance they could have native Filipino blood.

    Video Games 
  • Che Taraval from Wheelman is Dominican, but he speaks Argentinian Spanish. When coupled with his name and the fact that he looks like this, he becomes unintentionally hilarious.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 takes place in one of these, a fictional Micro Monarchy called Arulco whose exact location in Central or South America is somewhat vague. It used to be a poor but stable constitutional monarchy until the heir to the throne's new bride turned out to be an unusually literal Gold Digger, deposing her husband and turning the country into a brutal dictatorship in order to profit from the gold and silver deposits that had recently been discovered in most of the country. The player's job is to lead a team of mercenaries hired by the rightful king to serve her with divorce papers etched onto a bullet.

    Web Original 
  • Invoked and subverted in this story on Not Always Learning, where a Latina Spanish teacher (who is a Mexican Catholic), expects the one Latina student in her class (a Puerto Rican Protestant) to know about and celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. Of course, she doesn’t, as the Day of the Dead is a uniquely Mexican holiday tied to the Catholic All Saint’s Day.

    Western Animation 
  • The Mummy: The Animated Series
  • The Road to El Dorado is particularly egregious. The actual legend of El Dorado took place in Colombia, not in Central America as it is depicted in the film, and it was posterior to Cortés' (and Pizarro's) conquests.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Ape Army of the Amazon", the mayor of a Brazilian river village appears to be a Mexican peon.
  • Carmen Sandiego features an episode in Ecuador, including a trip to the mountaintop capital of Quito. Later seasons also take Carmen and her gang to various other Latin American countries, including possible candidates for her parentage in Argentina and Mexico, as well as to Brazil for the Rio Carnaval, and the show takes great pains to demonstrate the cultural differences between all these.