The Organization of American States (OAS) has refused to adopt a US proposal to monitor democracy in Latin America, at the end of its summit.
Condoleezza Rice put forward the US proposal
Instead, the final statement in Florida re-affirmed the principles of non-intervention and self-determination already accepted by the OAS.
Several countries in South America saw the US plan as potentially intrusive.
The move follows Washington's failure last month to get its candidate picked as leader of the organisation.
The US had to accept Chilean Jose Miguel Insulza after it was unable to garner support for two other candidates.
'Position of solidarity'
Ministers from 34 American and Caribbean nations met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to discuss the region's most pressing problems.
The diplomatic body agreed to a watered-down proposal, which would allow Mr Insulza to report on concerns about the democratic performance of member states.
The OAS also pledged to help Bolivia overcome the political turmoil which has prompted its president to offer his resignation.
The top US diplomat for Latin America, Roger Noriega, said the agreement was a success.
"Our position has always been one of solidarity and moving more pro-actively to head off breaks in democratic order, rather than to sanction countries," he said.
'Defeat for Washington'
But Venezuela welcomed the US proposal's failure.
Vice Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the move showed the OAS was no longer Washington's backyard.
Correspondents say the US will be more worried that most of the big players in the region seemed partly to agree.
Mexico and Brazil both came out against any new mechanisms that might seem to impose a particular view of democracy.
In Mexico, an editor of Foreign Affairs magazine told the BBC there was no disguising the move was a defeat for Washington.
Rafael Fernandez de Castro said it showed the region was fed up with a US administration that asked for much, gave little and seemed more intent on imposing than on negotiating.