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However, being a medieval concept that targeted exclusively those religious groups, it was never an issue among the native population in the colonies of the Spanish Empire, which by law allowed people from all racial groups to join the army, with being of the Catholic faith the only prerequisite.

One notable example was that of Francisco Menendez, a freed-black military officer of the Spanish Army during the 18th century at the Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose fort in St. Although historically both Colonial and Imperial Brazil had institutionalized discrimination against citizens who were deemed people of color, it never had a casta system like that of Hispanic America.

According to a survey conducted by Cohesión Social in Latin America, conducted on a sample of 10,000 people from seven different countries of the region, 34% of those interviewed identified themselves as white.

Being white is a term that emerged from a tradition of racial classification that developed as Europeans colonized large parts of the world and employed classificatory systems to distinguish themselves from the local inhabitants.

Alternately, in countries like Mexico and Brazil mixture has been emphasized as fundamental for nation-building, resulting in a large group of bi-racial mestizos, in Mexico, or tri-racial pardos, in Brazil, Unlike in the United States where ancestry may be used exclusively to define race, by the 1970s, Latin American scholars came to agree that race in Latin America could not be understood as the "genetic composition of individuals" but instead must be "based upon a combination of cultural, social, and somatic considerations".

In Latin America, a person's ancestry may not be decisive in racial classification.

While the majority are descendants of Spanish immigrants who arrived mainly from northern regions of Spain such as Cantabria, Navarra, Galicia and the Basque Country, in the 19th and 20th century many non-Iberian immigrants arrived to the country, either motivated by economic opportunity (Americans, Canadians, English), government programs (Italians, Irish, Germans) or political motives such as the French during the Second Mexican Empire.

In the 20th century international political instability was a key factor to drive immigration to Mexico, in this era Greeks, Romanians, Portuguese, Armenians, Poles, Russians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Jews, whereas in the 21st centrury, due to Mexico's economic growth, immigration from Europe has increased (mainly France and Spain), people from the United States have arrived as well, nowadays making up more than three-quarters of Mexico’s roughly one million documented foreigners.

Applicants to both institutions, and their spouses, had to obtain a Limpieza de sangre (purity of blood) certificate that proved that they had no Jewish or Moorish ancestors, in the same way as those in the Peninsula did.However, while most present-day racial classifications include a concept of being white that is ideologically connected to European heritage and specific phenotypic and biological features associated with European heritage, there are differences in how people are classified.These differences arise from the various historical processes and social contexts in which a given racial classification is used.Within Latin America there are variations in how racial boundaries have been defined.In Argentina, for example, the notion of mixture has been downplayed.

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