At the start of the 1990s, as the cold war ended, the spread of democracy throughout Latin America and the convergence of free-market economic policies provoked great optimism about the potential consequences of these trends for hemispheric security. 1 In particular, many actors believed that this new scenario provided an historic opportunity for fruitful cooperation between the United States and Latin America. Such cooperation had not been realized in the past for three distinct reasons: first, contrary to what had often been affirmed, there was neither a convergence of interests nor a shared perception of "threats" in the region; second, there was widening divergence about the most appropriate means to address crisis situations in the hemisphere; and third, the formal U.S. commitment to "nonintervention" and multilateralism had always been subordinate to U.S. policies of intervention and unilateral action within a context of marked asymmetry between U.S. power and that of its southern neighbors.