The paper traces the trajectory of NGOs in Latin America with an emphasis in the southern cone of this sub-continent. The region has undergone so many notable changes during the last ten to fifteen years that even a preliminary analysis as intended here is of great use. this paper sketches a picture of their origins, of the challenges they face and the dilemmas they are grappling with today.
This paper defines NGOs as non-profit organisations staffed by (semi)professionals who are engaged in the design and implementation of development policies, programmes and projects for, and with, poor sectors of the population. This definition identifies a kind of organization which unlike traditional charities attempts to mobilize the potential of the poor themselves, and which in contrast to relief and emergency agencies focuses on the promotion of long-term sustainable development.