Latin American countries mainly speak the Romance languages which descended from the Latin. Romance languages include Spanish, French and Portuguese. Latin American nations include Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominica Republic, Costa Rica , Panama and Uruguay. The Latin countries can be categorized into four main groups depending on the geographical location, culture, demographics and politics. These regions include Central America, North America, South America and the Caribbean in terms of physical geographical context. In a political context the region can be divided into Andean states and the Southern Cone. The languages spoken in the region can also be used to subdivide the Latin American region into Portuguese America and Hispanic America. In the Portuguese American region the most predominant language is the Portuguese language, while in Hispanic American countries Spanish is the dominant language (Donghi). Brazil is the most populous country in Latin America with Portuguese language as the most predominant language in the country.
During the cold war most of the Latin American countries were leaning toward the capitalism ideology. However, the social economic conditions of most of the Latin countries made most of those countries volatile and vulnerable to the communism ideology. This made Americans interfere with the region leadership, whereby several leaders who were seen as leaning towards the eastern ideology have been toppled with the help of the USA. This largely affected the Latin American leadership with some of the new leaders the USA helped to install turning into dictators. In order to prevent the Latin American countries from falling under the communist ideology, the western countries used financial aid and grants to entice the countries. However, such countries as Cuba embraced socialism and become self-reliant, implying that Cuba can be classified as an eastern country because of its political ideology. Today, most Latin countries have embraced democracy as means of achieving higher development levels. The demise of the socialist agenda and its influence in the world has seen most of Latin American countries turning into capitalist states. However, such state as Cuba and Chile, still have antagonistic relations with the western countries, mainly with the USA. In this context, such country can be argued to have the eastern leanings despite the demise of communism with the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The last decade has seen reduced influence of Russia in the political arena. Democracy has replaced most countries’ political ideology and reduced the political polarization of the cold war period that led to the east/west classification of states in the earlier periods. As such this term is rarely used to describe the political sphere of the various states. This means that today countries can hardly be described as western or eastern in the political sphere. Referring to any given country as western or eastern can, therefore, be argued to represent its geographical location or its levels of development. This means that today the term ‘western countries’ can be used to designate the countries that have attained higher development levels.
Economies of Latin American countries are characterized by higher levels of inequality and underdevelopment. This means that most of the population in these states live under adverse poverty conditions. The Western nations are seen mainly as those countries where the population has higher living standards. Given such dynamics, most Latin countries would, therefore, fall under the developing nations’ category. This also means that Latin American countries can be easily influenced by the developed nations since they heavily rely on the developed states for investment capital. In addition, financial aid and grants used for the capital intensive development projects reduce the autonomy of developing states.
Considering these existing conditions, we can argue that Latin American countries cannot be categorized as western states. This is because the western states can be characterized as countries that enjoy greater political and economic autonomy in comparison with other states in other regions. Dependency can, therefore, be described as one of the outstanding qualities that eliminate the Latin American states from the west category. The dependency theory of development which postulates that developing economies are largely influenced by developed economies designates the Latin American states as developing economies. The theory can, therefore, be used to declass the Latin American states from the western states.
The term ‘western countries’ can be used in a variety of contexts. Western countries have been historically seen as countries that were colonized by European nations. During the cold war period the terms ‘East’ and ‘West’ were used to denote communist and capitalist countries, respectively. The term has also been used to denote development status of any given country, with the ‘western nation’ denoting the developed countries. In this context the Latin American countries have often been viewed as a part of the third world countries which are characterized by underdevelopment. ‘West’ can also be used to describe the geographical location of given state. In this context it can be said that Latin American countries fall under the western hemisphere. Latin countries economies are characterized by higher level of inequality and underdevelopment. This means that most of the populations in these states live under adverse poverty conditions. The Western nations are seen mainly as countries where population has higher living standards. In this context the Latin American countries can be argued to be non-western.