Based upon the findings of a social assessment conducted in the community of Punta Laguna in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, it is contended in this paper that community development is contingent upon the external influences, both direct and indirect, that define the development conditions, priorities and interests within the community. There are three primary external influences that have shaped and continue to effect the development of this community. On a macro level, neoliberalism and its social and cultural impacts have created a backdrop from whence many of these conditions stem. Its emergence has created a rationale that dictates the values and priorities for development among the other external actors and, by extension, within the community itself. Another one of these external influences has been the presence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the community, one of which has been sustained and very active, and many of which have come and gone over the course of Punta Laguna’s contemporary history. The other external influence has been the growth of ecotourism in the community. This paper seeks to illustrate the ways in which these external forces—neoliberal conditions, NGOs, and ecotourism—have impacted and spurred development in Punta Laguna. It is also argued that the case of Punta Laguna illustrates why it is important to take into consideration the effects of global processes and external pressures into consideration in the implementation of any development effort.