Although the term "liberal" continues to be a dirty word that every politically correct Latin American has the obligation to detest, essentially liberal ideas and attitudes have begun to infect both the right and the left on the continent of lost illusions for some time now. This explains why, in recent years, Latin American democracies have not collapsed or been replaced by military dictatorships, despite the economic crises, corruption and failure of so many governments to realize their potential. Of course they are still there: Cuba has that authoritarian fossil Fidel Castro, who with 46 years of enslaving his country, is the longest-living dictator in Latin American history. And the ill-fated Venezuela now suffers at the hand of Commander Hugo Chavez, an inadequate contender to become a lowercase Fidel Castro. But they are two exceptions on a continent which, and this should be stressed, has never had so many civil governments engendered from relatively free elections. And there are interesting and encouraging cases such as that of Lula in Brazil who, before becoming president, espoused a populist doctrine, an economic nationalism and the traditional hostility of the left towards the market, but who is now a practitioner of fiscal discipline and a promoter of foreign investment, private business and globalization, although he wrongly opposes the Free Trade Area of the Americas. With more fiery rhetoric infused with bravado, Argentine President Kirchner is following his example, although unfortunately he seems to do so unwillingly and somewhat erringly at times. In addition, there are indications that the recently inaugurated government in Uruguay, led by Tabaré Vázquez, is willing to follow Lula’s economic policy example rather than repeat the stale state-controlled, centralist recipe that has caused so much devastation on our continent. Even the left has been reluctant to renege on the privatization of pensions--which has occurred in eleven Latin American countries to date--whereas the more backward left in the United States opposes the privatization of Social Security. These are positive signs of a certain modernization of the left, which, without recognizing it, is admitting that the road to economic progress and social justice passes through democracy and the market, which we liberals have long preached into the void. If in fact the Latin American left has accepted liberal politics, albeit cloaked in a rhetoric that denies it, all the better. It is a step forward suggesting that Latin America may finally shed the ballast of underdevelopment and dictatorships. It is an advance, as is the emergence of a civilized right that no longer believes that the solution to problems is to knock on the door of the military headquarters but rather to accept the vote and democratic institutions and to make them work.