Thus, the liberal movement emerged mainly in political and legal practice, not in theoretical works.
Liberal intellectuals expressed and developed their views in the numerous constitutions that they produced, in legal commentary, and in the public debates that took place in pamphlets and newspapers.
Second, though it is not straightforward to identify what exactly was meant by “liberalism” in each region at each particular time since public intellectuals expressed a plurality of views, it is not difficult to see that distinctively liberal positions developed in response to local political problems.
In the various regions of Latin America, liberalism developed in different directions according to the political problems that political actors considered most pressing.
Nevertheless, this reconstruction is also of philosophical interest for at least two reasons.
Since the heyday of Latin American liberalism took place in the nineteenth century, this entry privileges this historical period, though the last section focuses on the decline of liberalism in the twentieth century and its modest revival in recent decades.
In order to adequately present the liberal political movement, it has been indispensable to provide the highlights of the social and political context that motivated the initial enthusiastic appropriation of liberal ideas as well as their further development.
It was in this setting that the term “liberal” was for the first time employed in a political sense to refer to a political group (Breña 2012).
Since the Cadiz constitution was, in turn, heavily influenced by the political ideas of the French Revolution, the first liberal ideas in Latin America had likewise primarily this origin.