THE FORECASTS ARE CLEAR REGARDING LATIN Americans joining the rush to cyberspace and buying online. The question remains who will sell them the goods. In the future, as now, there is a real risk that our cyber-pioneers will be crushed by the obstacles hurtling through the region, while unencumbered online aliens sweep in from the United States and other parts of the globe and grab all the business.

Even on a level playing field, the foundations of today's successful Internet companies are anchored at several points: Smooth online interaction, solid delivery and massive marketing. "It's not a matter of build it and they will come' says Microsoft's Alejandro Villanueva. "It's a matter of marketing. Are Latin American companies going to be able to afford that?" Most Latin American Internet sites have a way to go to reach the sophistication in marketing and design that the...

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