Former Venezuelan business executive and current Latin sociopolitical pundit Gustavo Coronel contends that English-speaking politicians should not refer to countries south of the Rio Grande River as the "U.S. backyard."
Coronel says 'backyard' has a friendly connotation in the U.S., often referring to the heart of America, however,
But when applied to Latin America it gets lost in translation, since it means the “corral”, as in the OK Corral.For the sake of tact and diplomacy, I'd suggest 'neighbor' be used instead of 'backyard.'
In Spanish America the “corral” is that part of the house where the family keeps the chickens and plant a few mango or banana trees.
In time the “corral” has also become the place where old refrigerators, washing machines and even old cars are put to rest. The backyard, in some ways, has become a graveyard.
This is the image that springs to the minds of many Latin Americans when they listen to U.S. politicians refer to their countries as the “U.S. backyard”. Even those who know that no offense is meant feel hurt by the use of the term.
Of course, when one considers the quantity of people and contraband regularly crossing the border, it might be more appropriate to substitute the term 'backdoor' for 'backyard.'