||The recent strides of democracy in Latin America have been associated to conflicting outcomes. The expectation that democracy would bring about peace and prosperity have been only partly satisfied. While political violence has been by and large eradicated from the sub-continent, poverty and social injustice still prevail and hold sway. Our study argues that democracy matters for inequality through the growing strength of center left and left parties and by making political leaders in general more responsive to the underprivileged. Furthermore, although the pension reforms recently enacted in the region generated overall regressive outcomes on income distribution, democratic countries still benefit from their political past: where democratic tradition was stronger, such outcomes have been milder. Democratic tradition and the specific ideological connotations of the parties in power, on the other hand, did not play an equally crucial role in securing lower levels of political violence: during the last wave of democratizations in Latin America, domestic peace was rather an outcome of political and social concessions to those in distress. In sum, together with other factors and especially economic ones, the reason why recent democratizations have provided domestic peace in most cases, but have been unable so far to solve the problem of poverty and inequality, is that democratic traditions in the subcontinent have been relatively weak and, more specifically, that this weakness has undermined the growth of left and progressive parties, acting as an obstacle to redistribution. Such weakness, on the other hand, has not prevented the drastic reduction of domestic political violence, since what mattered in this case was a combination of symbolic or material concessions and political agreements among powerful élites and counter-élites.