Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

Latin America’s Expanding Definition of National Security

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, March 29, 2012
Job seekers join a line of hundreds of people at a job fair in Heredia Job seekers join a line of hundreds of people at a job fair in Heredia (Juan Carlos Ulate/Courtesy Reuters).

Two reports came out recently from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Council of the Americas (COA), both looking at Latin America and framing their substance as “national security” concerns. The first from CSIS, “Police Reform in Latin America: Implications for U.S. Policy,” describes how police reform has become a mainstay of foreign police and national security, not only in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in the Western Hemisphere. Read more »

Mexico’s Earthquakes, Past and Present

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Residents are evacuated from a building following an earthquake, in Mexico City March 20, 2012. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was 7.6 on the Richter scale and located the epicenter of the quake at Oaxaca State (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters). Residents are evacuated from a building following an earthquake, in Mexico City March 20, 2012. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was 7.6 on the Richter scale and located the epicenter of the quake at Oaxaca State (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters).

A 7.4 earthquake hit central and south Mexico today around noon, with its epicenter near Ometepec, Guerrero, but felt strongly in the capital and as far away as Guatemala. There are no reported deaths so far, and only limited damage has been described, although the tremor is said to have caused power-outages for some 1.5 million Mexicans. Read more »

Organized Crime Beyond Drug Trafficking

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, March 16, 2012
A person walks past a glass door damaged by bullets at the police headquarters where Marisol Valles Garcia used to work in Praxedis G. Guerrero (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). A person walks past a glass door damaged by bullets at the police headquarters where Marisol Valles Garcia used to work in Praxedis G. Guerrero (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Harvard’s winter 2012 ReVista magazine focuses on crime and violence primarily in Mexico and Central America. Many of the authors were participants in a Harvard-sponsored working group, bringing together scholars and researchers from the university, as well as from other institutions in the United States and throughout the region to delve into the many complicated issues surrounding these themes. The articles are short, well-written, and quite useful to get a broad overview of the various perspectives on the reasons behind the rising tide of violence and of what may lay ahead. Read more »

Investing in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Botafogo neighborhood is seen with the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background in Rio de Janeiro (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). The Botafogo neighborhood is seen with the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background in Rio de Janeiro (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

I just came back from speaking on a panel, on Brazil and Latin America more broadly, at a conference for institutional investors. We five panelists came from research, investing, and on-the-ground business backgrounds, providing a variety of perspectives and interesting conversation.  Overall three big themes emerged in our discussion: Read more »

Guest Post: Colombia on the International Stage

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Presidents Santos of Colombia, Chavez of Venezuela and Castro of Cuba chat during a family photo session during the CELAC summit in Caracas (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Courtesy Reuters). Presidents Santos of Colombia, Chavez of Venezuela and Castro of Cuba chat during a family photo session during the CELAC summit in Caracas (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Sebastian Chaskel and Michael Bustamante. Sebastian Chaskel is a Master in Public Affairs student at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Michael Bustamante is a doctoral student in history at Yale University. Both served as research associates at the Council on Foreign Relations in the Latin America program. This post draws on an article published in the February edition of Current History. Read more »

Vice President Biden Visits Mexico and Central America

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, March 5, 2012
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon pose for a photograph prior to a meeting at the Los Pinos presidential palace in Mexico City (Tomas Bravo/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon pose for a photograph prior to a meeting at the Los Pinos presidential palace in Mexico City (Tomas Bravo/Courtesy Reuters).

On Sunday, Joe Biden began his second trip to Latin America as Vice President. In 2009  he went to Chile and Costa Rica to talk about the global economic crisis; now he is in Mexico and Honduras, focusing on security (among other issues) in the lead up to the April Summit of the Americas. Read more »

Rethinking U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, March 1, 2012

The most recent edition of Foreign Affairs has a great piece by Chris Sabatini, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy at the Council of the Americas. In “Rethinking Latin America” he points out that the most distinguishing aspect of U.S.-Latin America relations is the U.S. focus on internal dynamics — building democratic institutions, promoting social and economic inclusion and the like — as opposed to more hard-headed traditional international relations issues. This occurs not only in the Washington policy world, but also in academia. Reflecting back on my own graduate work, I distinctly remember the time spent reading the “classics” on U.S.-Latin America relations. These were relatively easy weeks, precisely because there has been so little written. This approach, Sabatini believes, “has distorted Washington’s calculations of regional politics and hampered its ability to counter outside influences and deal sensibly with rising regional powers.” Read more »