The history of Latin America has been dominated by ideas of order and progress. Unfortunately those ideas have not always been of regional origin. In the colonial era the conquest and conversion of the native peoples was seen as progress by the Europeans. The imposition of order was aided greatly by urbanization sometimes symbolically on the ruins of Indian cities such as at Cuzco and Mexico City. Cities became the point of cultural and economic articulation between the barbaric hinterland and the civilization of Europe. Freedom from the Spanish yoke gained in the Independence wars was similarly seen as progress, at least by the ultimately victorious creole ‘patriots’. It was here, however, that notions of national identity, modernization and economic success became intertwined to produce the conflicts which still inflame the region today. The paramount question has remained: whose order and concept of progress should be imposed?