The paper considers the extent to which trade liberalization, de-regulation of economic activity, privatization of public assets and more careful management of macroeconomic aggregates, are affecting Latin America. The background, set in import substituting industrialization, has given way to transition towards a new productive structure and new methods of organization of manufacturing activity. Part of that is the relative rise of industries based on the processing of resources. Industrial labour productivity improved in the early 1990s after a long period of stagnation, which became very apparent in the 1980s, though the achievement of an 8% per annum rate, and much shedding of labour, has been insufficient to close the gap which exists with the US. The paper comments on the difficulties of understanding transition in the context of economic theory.