In picking up his award, Guerra (who performed in the show with trumpeter Chris Botti) called for "justice and integrity" for Latin countries and elaborated backstage. "This is an album full of romanticism, but it's also an album that calls for integrity and for morals."
The show featured 47 categories in diverse genres with devout followings across the continents, from sertaneja in Brazil to Tejano in the American Southwest.
The gala featured some odd pairings: Juan Luis Guerra rapping while synchronized swimmers kicked their legs upside down in pool. Enrique Iglesias performing with reggaeton duo Wisin y Yandel. Canadian-Portuguese folk-rocker Nelly Furtado and pioneering female hip-hop MC Mala Rodriguez getting their groove on with the b-boy crew Jabbawockeez.
But the audience embraced the diversity of Latin genres and enjoyed every moment.
Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz won the first major award of the evening -- best male pop vocal album -- for "Paraiso Express," bringing his career total to 17 Latin Grammys.
"When I saw the opening of this Latin Grammys show, I got very emotional," he said. "I was at the first one, and it's been a little complicated, and see how far we've come."
Venezuelan duo Chino y Nacho burst out of their seats when their win for best urban album was announced.
"We're not going to be able to sleep tonight," Nacho said. "We're proof that 'si se puede' with determination and perseverance."
Chino chimed in: "I'm going to dare to say something that's never been said at the Grammys: Venezuela!"
Bronx-born bachata singer Prince Royce sang his chart-topping bilingual version of "Stand By Me" with the song's original composer and singer, R&B legend Ben E. King.
By the time the Latin Grammy committee invited King to sing with the 21-year-old Dominican, King's granddaughter had already played him the song.
The difference between the original and the bachata version? "You can dance faster," King told reporters later.
The hosts, Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez and actress Lucero, worked their way through a list of 47 categories in diverse genres with devout followings across the continents, from sertaneja in Brazil to Tejano in the American Southwest, with some presented during the pre-show.
Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez's defiant hip-hop song "No pidas perdon" won in the best urban song category, beating out her all-male Puertorican colleagues, Daddy Yankee and Don Omar.
Best alternative song went to the Colombian Choc hip-hop group Quib Town for "De donde vengo yo," their danceable anthem about the remote Pacific coastal region of El Choco and its distinctive Afro-Colombian culture.
"Long live the African people of Latin America!" said Gloria Martinez, as she choked back tears of joy and pride, resplendent in a royal blue head wrap and shimmering yellow gown. Martinez, who raps and sings under the name "Goyo," said she chose the dress to wear Colombia's colors and "to feel like myself."
"They're broadcasting this in the plazas in El Choco. We're so proud," she told reporters. "This is national news, for the Pacific to win a Grammy."
Mexican Ely Guerra brought home best alternative album for "Hombre invisible," her first independent recording.
"We who make alternative music used to watch this from far away, so to win feels really good," she said.
The awards ceremony at the Mandalay Bay Events Center is broadcast live on Univision in the United States and across Latin America.
(Additional reporting by Leila Cobo)