The Outsourcing Provider and Her Two Husbands
It's with respect to outsourcing, which requires intimate understanding of cultural issues between partnering companies and between collaborating programmers, that such isolating factors matter most.
While there is a widespread stereotype of South American countries as politically unstable, The Economist characterized Brazil as the most stable of the BRIC countries, and the Heritage Foundation rated Brazil fairly highly for protection of property rights and free trade. (A dark-humored South American joke: Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.? Because there is no U.S. Embassy there.)
In the case of North American companies partnering with South American ones, the term would be nearsourcing. It's partly geographic, and factors like being in roughly the same time zones can be a big plus, as Argentine outsourcing companies like to point out. And while language is a barrier, both language and other cultural differences are less likely to be a problem between countries in the Western Hemisphere than between U.S. and Eastern European or Asian partners. But many issues shape the form of these international software development relationships. Sometimes it's U.S. law, as in the case of the H1-B visa policy.
And, as mentioned, South American countries all have their unique cultural, economic, and regulatory issues. Argentina is particularly aggressive in pursuing outsourcing relationships. Columbia, Chile, and Venezuela are still marginal players, but all three countries are showing signs of making IT growth a priority. Of course, by focusing on South America, we are excluding one of the most powerful Latin American countries, Mexico, as well as little Costa Rica, which claims to be the leading outsourcing partner in Latin America.
Finally, it should not be assumed that North American companies are always the preferred partners for outsourcing relationships. China and India are already huge markets for South America, and are eager to increase their connections in the region.