The countries of Latin America are experiencing complex institutional, political and economic processes of a crisis, which has its roots, for the most part, in the progress towards and consolidation of democracy, as they emerge from the preceding decades in which the majority of them have suffered under the yolk of military dictatorships. To these weakened political structures are added a number of economic crises, such as the eff ects of the impact of neo-liberal policies, of globalization and the processes that belong to the crisis of the survival of the state, the introduction of market economies and the internationalization of national economic decisions, the net eff ect of which, in most countries, has been a drastic reform of the state. This reform has taken the form of the privatization of public services, a huge rise in the level of unemployment, and, as a result, an increase in poverty, and of the social and economic exclusion and marginalization of a growing segment of society that lives in poverty. These processes experienced by the countries of Latin America have, at the same time, increased the inequalities between the developed countries of North America and Europe and the developing countries-if we may refer to them as such-in the region. These inequalities have been exacerbated by the very negative eff ects of the current worldwide economic and fi nancial crisis.