The majority of Latin Americans probably would have preferred Jimmy Carter. But Ronald Reagan has many supporters in the region, particularly the military governments in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Guatemala.
The military governments of Latin America, however, have smarted under President Carter's human-rights campaign. Reagan said in September that although he favors human rights the world over, he would soft-pedal the issue as a foreign policy goal -- preferring to advocate it through "normal diplomatic channels rather than through open public pronouncements."
"That is to our liking," Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia, president of Guatemala, declared in a recent interview. "It is time that the United States gets off our backs and begins realizing that we are in the first line of the world struggle against communist imperialism. Unless the United States supports us, it may someday find itself alone in the world."
That was similar to the view of an Argentine announcement two weeks ago that said "a Reagan win would be in the best interest of Latin America, which under Jimmy Carter has been put in the position of being told how it should handle its internal affairs. That is the very imperialism that we thought was long since overcome in US policy. Reagan would happily be more attuned to our reality."
The more conventional Latin American view is that Democrats do the most for Latin America -- both in terms of economic assistance and in support of democratic civilian governments -- and that the continent would have been better off with President Carter back in the White House.