Here is an articulation of Mitt Romney's positions on Latin America. It is clearly written by someone who knows nothing about the region, and is cloyingly paternalistic. This paragraph is a perfect illustration:
Latin American nations like Colombia and Brazil, which have achieved a fragile political stability, look to the United States for essential leadership and public support in the face of these internal and external threats.
The author seems not to understand that the Colombian president has thawed relations with Venezuela and is not looking to the United States for anything. And what's up with the assertion that Brazil is fragile and needs the U.S.? Good grief.
It occurred to me, though, that paternalism underlies virtually all criticisms of Barack Obama's Latin America policy. Latin American leaders "look to" the United States and are rudderless if the U.S. government does not give them guidance. There is a "threat" emanating from Venezuela and only the United States can provide the civilizing power necessary for goodness and light to once again shine.
This is all a crock, of course, but it plays well in the U.S. media. The myth of American exceptionalism requires that other nations be framed as weaker and less able than we are. I can imagine Brazilian and Colombian leaders simply shaking their heads in disbelief about how they are portrayed.