Michael Shifter finds that most Latin Americans don’t care for Republican exaggerations of Iran’s role in the region:
Latin Americans believe Iran’s moves in the region should be closely watched, but that, given their hard-earned democratic peace and prosperity, they do not offer fertile terrain for nefarious, destabilizing acts. They further believe that Washington should be careful not to exaggerate Iran’s influence in the region, as Santorum did when he said, “Iran is organizing a Latin terror network.” Within an increasingly self-confident and assertive Latin America, Newt Gingrich’s reference in Florida to Iran’s “overt violation” of the (long-defunct) Monroe Doctrine must have sounded especially outlandish and insulting.
It doesn’t help that Gingrich doesn’t seem to understand what the Monroe Doctrine was. I can see why his comments would not be well-received in Latin America. Gingrich’s position is that Latin American governments should not be able to reach security/military agreements with other states unless the U.S. approves of their partners, which is another way of saying that he thinks the U.S. should dictate the foreign policy choices of the rest of the hemisphere. This happens to be the opposite of the Monroe Doctrine, which was originally based on respecting the sovereignty and independence of the other republics in our hemisphere. Exaggerating Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere and beyond is what Santorum does best. Of course, the candidates making these exaggerations are doing so because exaggerated Iranian influence provides a pretext and justification (at least in their eyes) for more intrusive U.S. policies aimed at “countering” this influence.