Taking dominant narratives of human rights progress and skepticism in Latin America as my point of departure, I explore in this article an alternative and more complex view of human rights change. Theoretically, I problematize the notion of global convergence, or the idea that national standards and practices will align with international ones. Empirically, I focus on how specific democratic institutional reforms have reflected seemingly contradictory trends: positive sources of change, alongside institutionalized hypocrisy and pathological weakness. I emphasize, in particular, how these dynamics have played out in the spread of national human rights institutions (i.e., ombudsman offi ces) across the region. In general, the essay offers a broad and critical reflection on the assumptions underlying everyday notions of human rights progress in Latin America.