I like to think of nationalism in terms of national sovereignty, the desire of nations to govern themselves and determine their own future. For Latin American nations, self determination, or national sovereignty, has been hard fought.
As the wars of independence in the 19th century came to a close, much of Latin America lay in ruins, populated by different cultures, languages, ethnicities, and races separated over a huge continent with a rough terrain. Progressive and forward looking forces in many Latin American countries sought to create sovereign nations. It was a process that often came up against real barriers, especially when the political aspirations of Latin American countries and leaders conflicted with the designs of powerful local bosses, foreign corporations and their governments, especially from the US. If Latin American nations lacked sovereignty, it was not for lack of trying. Mexico fought a revolution in 1910 and maybe gained the strongest sense of national identity of many nations of Latin America, and leaders emerged in Columbia, Brazil, Argentina, all organizing around programs of national sovereignty. But victories were few.