Chile aside, growth rates have been relatively low since the 1980s (and much lower than Asia and parts of eastern Europe). Corruption, poverty and extreme inequality remain - the region is the world's most inequitable.
It is important to distinguish between two different Lefts, however. The traditional Left, now in power in Chile, Uruguay and Brazil, has dropped its radicalism and has largely stuck to established market-oriented economic policies.
The populist Left - already governing in Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia - is more dangerous (witness Morales' nationalisation programme in Bolivia) and historically has led to inflation, greater poverty, inequality and confrontation with the US. Policies should be focused on supporting the old Left and containing the new, populist Left.
Latin America's left turn
Jorge G Casteneda, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006.
Reviewed by Steve Lodge.