Despite Mexico‟s progress in terms of democratization, the country‟s Broadcasting Law and its practices of granting broadcasting licenses still have not adapted to the principles of democratic citizenship. Community radios remain extra-legal operations: their legal status is not regulated and there is no transparent way to obtain licenses and resources. At the same time, prominent actors in the domains of politics and media support the criminalization of these alternative media. Nonetheless, community radios have organized and mobilized for legal recognition. As a result, 19 stations have obtained licenses and operate legally. The paper offers an assessment of the situation of Mexican community radio stations and traces the process of legalization of community radio from 2002 to 2010. It connects the question of media regulation with theoretical assumptions about the concept of defective democracies and the quality of democracy. A comparative perspective of other Latin American countries, which have largely modernized their regulation of community media, further complements the analysis of the Mexican situation.