For Latin American governments, mediating between their national societies and the international economy, the contemporary debt issue poses some excruciating dilemmas. On the one side, these governments are under intense pressure to arrive at satisfactory formulas for settling their debts–satisfactory, that is, to the banks and creditor agencies that control access to international financial markets. Loss of such access would threaten vital capital and trade flows, and for this reason virtually every Latin American government has so far placed a high priority on meeting its external obligations. But governmental elites, if they are to remain in power, must also answer to (or repress) their own populations. And the price to be paid for external help with “liquidity problems” has typically involved politically dangerous stabilization measures (devaluations, wage and credit restrictions, and fiscal deficit reductions)–measures that often arouse the strong opposition of major social forces.