A rising star in international relations theory who teaches at the University of Guadalajara, Santa-Cruz persuasively argues that it was no coincidence that the now commonplace monitoring of elections by international observers began in Latin America. The two-century-old "Western Hemisphere Idea" affirms that the region constitutes a separate system of interests rooted in shared democratic values. Rejecting the cynicism of some "realists" in favor of a "moderate constructivist stance," Santa-Cruz finds that the hemispheric discourse on democracy has altered the way Latin Americans define their national interests and identities and has rendered national sovereignty consistent with international intervention on behalf of human rights and free elections. Drawing on fresh interviews with key players, Santa-Cruz details election monitoring by multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and national civic associations in Chile (1988), Nicaragua (1990), Mexico (1994), and Peru (2000). At a time when the Western Hemisphere -- as a concept and as a zone of cooperation -- is under strain, Santa-Cruz reminds us of the durability of the Western Hemisphere Idea. He does not, however, consider the democratic paradox now haunting Latin America: what to do when the people elect leaders with dubious dedication to democracy.