I believe the above statement is more pertinent than the "I like" this one or the other, and much more important to what is kept.I like both, but keep South Americans now as I have very soft water.
i.e. If you have very soft water, keeping Amazonian soft water S American cichlids is going to be more a more statisfying endeavor than keeping Central Americans, because they are going to be healthier, and present better.
If the aquarist has hard, mineral rich water, keeping Central Americans, or rift lake Africans is going to be generally more satisfying, because they are less likely to get HITH and other maladies than soft water South Americans would in less than optimum water conditions.
I don't like any one type, over the other, but in all the places I've lived I've had hard, mineral rich tap water, and so keeping certain soft water cichlids was a fruitless endeavor.
By the way, cichlids from west of the Andes in S America like Mesoheros festae, the Geophagus "red hump clade, or genus Andinoacara (GTs)can handle much the same waters as Central Americans can, and did well, n my hard mineral rich waters, whereas Amazonian not so well.
Mesoheros festae above, and another Mesoheros gepherum from west of the Andes below
and Andinoacara coerleopunctatus from Panama below