If a medal were to be struck in commemoration of Latin America's successful survival of the 20th century, la cava might bear a representation of democracy and el sello that of authoritarianism. These alternatives have characterized all attempts to arrive at political consensus for the past hundred years and more.
The current version of the region's perpetual dichotomous nature has been called (re)democratization. In South America it has replaced professional militarism, the most recent representation of authoritarianism, and threatens to affect traditional democratic practices in countries spared the military incursions of the 1964-1989 quarter-century. To the north, (re)democratization challenges both traditional authoritarianism and Marxism-Leninism.
(Re)democratization is a transitional process in which the polity shifts from one with minimal partisan and popular participation back to one based on (ever more maximized) pluralistic participation, usually characterized by meaningful elections, separation of state powers, constitutional order, rule of law, respect for human rights, and civilian regulation of armed force.