Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

The Other Shoe Dropping? Latin America's Private Sector Debt

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, December 18, 2008

As the world financial crisis hits Latin America, it is easy to equate it to the repeated financial crises that hit the region in 1982, 1995, and 2001. In these past episodes, irresponsible fiscal policies by Latin America’s governments often led to and then exacerbated the region’s financial troubles. But this time around, as many analysts rightly point out, Latin American countries face the global crisis with much sounder economic policies in place, including fiscal balances (and even surpluses), lower debt levels, and high international reserves. The quite different public economic fundamentals fuel predictions – by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the IMF among others – that the region will weather the crisis with only a few scratches. Read more »

Obama and Latin America: A New Direction?

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reporters, CFR members, students, and other interested folks keep asking me if U.S. policy toward Latin America will change when President-elect Obama steps into the White House on January 20. The fact is that U.S. policy toward most Latin American countries will not change much under the new president. Obama will have several pressing issues on his plate when he steps into office, and Latin America is not likely to be one of them. But Obama does have a real opportunity to redirect U.S. relations with Cuba and Venezuela, and as a result change the tone of U.S.-Latin America relations. Read more »

It’s time for Mexico to take the lead, from Mexico’s The News

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, December 1, 2008

It’s hard to believe that Calderon is coming up for 2 years in office, one-third of his term. Much has been said of Calderon’s domestic agenda, but in the op-ed below, published in Mexico’s major English-language newspaper, The News, I analyze his foreign policy achievements. I argue that President Calderon has done much to restore Mexico’s bilateral relationships, but that so far his administration has failed to take on a global leadership role. With four more years in office, Calderon should shift Mexico’s foreign policy course to actively shape the international agenda. Read more »

Pass FTA and amend Plan Colombia, from the Washington Times

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, December 1, 2008

It has been two years since the United States and Colombia signed a free trade agreement, and it still has not been approved by Congress, in part due to concerns over Colombia’s human rights record. In the op-ed below published by the Washington Times today CFR Research Associate Sebastian Chaskel and I argue that withholding the agreement will not improve human rights in Colombia, but that the U.S. has other policy tools that could have an impact. Read more »