Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

Rumblings of a Constitutional Assembly in Brazil

by Matthew Taylor Wednesday, April 19, 2017
A general view of the plenary chamber of deputies after a session in Brasilia, Brazil April 12, 2017 (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).

Brazil remains in ferment. The massive Lava Jato investigation turned three years old last month, and this week marked the one-year anniversary of the Chamber of Deputies’ vote to impeach Dilma Rousseff. Last week brought the release of long-anticipated “end of the world” testimony by 77 plea-bargaining Odebrecht executives, which implicated nearly one hundred senior politicians, including a third of the Senate, more than three dozen deputies, thirty percent of the cabinet ministers, and a handful of governors. All six living presidents, including incumbent Michel Temer, now face allegations of improprieties from Lava Jato. Read more »

The World Next Week Podcast

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, April 14, 2017

Yesterday I joined Jim Lindsay on CFR’s podcast, The World Next Week, which gives a preview of world events in the week ahead. We discussed the political crisis unfolding in Venezuela, Turkey’s constitutional referendum, Brazil’s deepening corruption probes, and Donald Trump’s abrupt policy shifts. You can listen to the podcast here.

The Future of Anticorruption in U.S. Foreign Policy

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, April 7, 2017

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hosting the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy program’s symposium on “The Future of Anticorruption in U.S. Foreign Policy.” We started the day off with Senator Ben Cardin, who discussed his contributions to anticorruption legislation, including the Global Magnitsky Act and the proposed Combating Global Corruption Act. Our second session focused on corruption and commerce; with speakers discussing the costs and benefits of policing international markets. During the third and final session, speakers examined the links between corruption and national security, evaluating where U.S. policies have succeeded, and where they have fallen short. Read more »

A Look Inside Mexico

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This afternoon, I joined Randal C. Archibold, Arturo Sarukhan, and José W. Fernández to speak about the domestic politics of Mexico, the impact of corruption, and Mexico’s bilateral strategy with the United States following disagreements over immigration, border walls, and the North American Free Trade Agreement. You can watch the conversation here.

International Pressure on the Maduro Regime

by Matthew Taylor Monday, April 3, 2017
An opposition supporter with a sign that reads, "Venezuela lives a dictatorship", take part in a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, March 31, 2017 (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters).

The Venezuelan constitutional chamber’s decision last week to dissolve the National Assembly has made it abundantly clear that Maduro’s Venezuela is an authoritarian regime. The judiciary is at the beck and call of chavista forces, the military is corrupt and co-opted, and despite a last-minute reversal of the court’s decision, the continued dilution of the Assembly’s powers means that there are effectively no independent institutions left with the power to check the regime. Read more »

Brazil’s Brewing Trade Debate

by Matthew Taylor Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Brazil's President Michel Temer during their meeting at the West lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 2, 2016 (Minor Iwasaki/Reuters).

Brazil is in the midst of a grand debate on its future in the global economy. The debate has been happening behind the scenes, obfuscated by the fireworks of the Lava Jato corruption scandal, overshadowed by the flashier discussions of political reform and the Temer administration’s fiscal reforms, and hidden from view by explosive scandals, such as the recent meat-packing disaster that threatens one of Brazil’s key export markets. Read more »

Five Facts about Bad Hombres and Border Security

by Matthew Taylor Friday, March 10, 2017
People talk to their relatives at a wall separating Mexico and the United States, as photographed from Playas Tijuana, in Tijuana, Mexico, April 10, 2016 (Jorge Duenes/Reuters).

The new administration has emphasized the need to curb security threats from Latin America: bad hombres, rapist Mexicans, and the wall are among the wrenching rhetorical symbols that President Trump has used to signal his goals. Five data points highlight the challenges the administration will face as it moves to secure the southern border. Read more »

China Wins if NAFTA Dies

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, March 9, 2017
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a news conference at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico City June 4, 2013. Xi is on a three-day official visit to Mexico (Edgard Garrido/Reuters).

Much is made of the perils of ending NAFTA for Mexico, and rightly so. The 23-year-old agreement has helped the nation not only boost trade but also transform its economy, moving from a commodity to an advanced manufacturing exporter. With 80 percent of its exports headed north, even the threat of change has hurt Mexico’s currency, limited its ability to attract foreign direct investment, and cut the country’s current and future economic growth. Read more »

Automation is Changing Latin America Too

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Robots assemble a car at Ford Motor Company factory in Camacari, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, November 14, 2007. Ford invested US $1.2 billion at the Camacari's factory and created a unique environment that consolidates production line with their direct suppliers' own facilities where the models are made for the Brazilian market and exported to other in development countries as well (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters).

While politicians have focused primarily on the effects of trade, automation is rapidly transforming the nature of work. A recent McKinsey report estimates that half of the labor done today can be turned over to machines, fundamentally changing the nature of manufacturing, retail, food services, and data processing among other sectors. They predict that China, India, the United States, and Japan will see the largest and fastest shifts as a combination of easy capital, aging populations, and falling productivity speeds the transition away from a human workforce. By their calculations, nearly 400 million Chinese and 235 million Indian workers compete with robots today. In the United States and Japan, some 60 percent of jobs are susceptible to change. Although positions may not disappear altogether, the work people do will change, as roughly a third of today’s repetitive tasks could be taken over by machines. Read more »