Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

Venezuela's regional elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday’s regional elections in Venezuela saw a record turnout of 65% of eligible voters. This is high both by Venezuela’s standards (45% of voters came out for the 2004 regional elections) and by global standards (about 62% of voters came out during the U.S. presidential election this year). In the short-term, President Hugo Chavez and the opposition ended in a draw, as the opposition gained control over the mayorship of Caracas and 4 states (including the 2 most populous), but the PSUV (Chavez’s party) maintained control of 17 states. In the long-term, though, this is an important victory for the opposition. Even though they won only 5 of the 22 territories, they will govern nearly half of Venezuela’s population. This grants the opposition a better platform to share their concerns with the general population and to build a political base for future elections. It also means Chavez will also have to tolerate – and even cooperate with – opposition regional governments in order to keep the trappings of democracy. For a few more thoughts on the subject, I talked to PBS’s World Focus last night:

Calderon’s Turn at Police Reform

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, November 21, 2008

Since Calderon took office nearly 2 years ago, crime has increased at an alarming rate. Spilling beyond border drug violence, assaults, shootouts and kidnappings frighten citizens across the country. Perceived widespread corruption in the ranks of public security forces heightens the unease. In the wake of a particularly high profile and gruesome kidnapping/killing, Mexico’s civil society marched on mass in August 2008, demanding change. In response, local and national governments signed a pact-the “Acuerdo Nacional por la Seguridad, la Justicia y la Legalidad”-to improve Mexico’s public security. Read more »