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Law in Latin America is routinely the target of systemic criticism by U.S. commentators. Marked by underdevelopment and corruption in the region, national legal systems are considered part of the problem and not the solution. As a result, numerous reform proposals advocate the internationalization of traditionally national legal domains. International competence in the form of the Inter-American system, NAFTA, a free trade area ofthe Americas or World Bank intervention in national judiciaries will not, however, supplant most of the hemisphere's law. Whatever expectations the global arena may hold, local law will continue to play a substantial role. In addition, internationalizing reforms may actually undermine the general goal of expanding democratic participation. Distancing the operation of law from local reach is likely to reinforce the very anomalies already perceived in the region. In this light, we should reexamine our settled understandings of"Latin American law" and the latter's widely-noted limitations. This Essay advances the task of re-thinking some of the basic background beliefs.