Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

China’s Chen Guangcheng

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, May 31, 2012
Blind activist Chen Guangcheng smiles at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters). Blind activist Chen Guangcheng smiles at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters).

I had the good fortune this morning to see Chen Guangcheng speak here at the Council on Foreign Relations (and you can watch it here too). Over the course of the hour he answered questions ranging from the nature of his escape from his village of Dongshigu to legal rights in China to what the United States—either through government officials or private business interests—can and should do to help those like him. Through all his (on the record) answers emerged a presence, sense of humor, and thoughtfulness impressive for anyone, and in particular someone that has faced the challenges he has in recent years. Read more »

Violence and Insecurity in Latin America: New Survey Findings

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, May 29, 2012
People in a local bus service travel past a crime scene, where three men were shot dead, in Monterrey (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Though specific countries usually capture the headlines for their bloodiness—Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and often Colombia—security problems are widespread throughout Latin America. For the region which holds the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most violent, a new Latinobarómetro report looks at the recent trends, and through survey data,  tries to tease out how this affects perceptions, people, and, more broadly, democracy. Read more »

Mexico’s Judicial Reforms, Four Years Later

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The cuffed hands of Antonio Mercado are pictured as he is presented to the media in Guadalajara (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2008 Mexico passed a series of constitutional and legislative reforms that, when implemented, should fundamentally transform its justice system. The reforms are designed to improve public security and the administration of justice, moving Mexico’s courts from a system of written evidence to one of oral trials and bolstering due process rights for the defendant by ensuring the presumption of innocence and better access to an adequate defense. Law enforcement agencies will also see changes, as the reforms give police a larger role in criminal investigations and stronger tools to take on organized crime such as the arraigo, which allows authorities to hold suspects for up to eighty days. The deadline for the reform’s implementation was set for 2016. Read more »

North American Competitiveness

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, May 18, 2012
Truck of Mexican company Olympics crosses Puente Internacional Comercio Mundial while approaching border crossing into U.S., in Laredo (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday I attended a conference “Made in North America: Competitiveness, Supply Chain, and Transportation in the NAFTA Region,” which was part of World Trade Week’s events here in New York. From the interesting panels there emerged three main points, one positive and two less so. Read more »

Latin America’s Economic Outlook

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Source: The 2012 IMF Economic Outlook Report for the Western Hemisphere

The recent IMF economic outlook report entitled, “The Western Hemisphere: Rebuilding Strength and Flexibility,” is overall quite bullish on the region. Fueled by favorable commodity prices and plentiful international credit, it lauds (as much as the IMF does) the steady growth of the past decade. Perhaps as important for the IMF, many Latin American governments have used rising revenues in economically sound ways. The region as a whole has turned deficits to surpluses, and lowered debt to GDP levels by some 15 percent. Many countries invested in targeted social programs, helping reduce regional poverty levels from 44 percent in 2002 to 33 percent in 2008. Read more »

Changes in Mexican Migration

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, May 11, 2012
A candidate for United States citizenship grips a small American flag during a naturalization ceremony celebrating Bill Of Rights Day in the Federal Hall National Memorial in New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

A recent Pew Hispanic Center report highlights the rather steep declines in the number of Mexicans coming to the United States, as well as the rising numbers leaving for Mexico. Taken together, they show that net migration from 2005 to 2010 reached zero—with inflows and outflows of some 1.4 million individuals (a rough average of 280,000 a year) cancelling each other out. This is a huge migratory shift, and one that reflects many things, including a weaker U.S. economy, a stronger Mexican economy, changing Mexican demographics, rising deportations, and enhanced border security. Read more »

Discussing Mexico’s and Brazil’s Economic Outlook

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This morning, I did an interview with Ken Prewitt and Tom Keene on Bloomberg Radio. Always lively hosts, we talked mostly about most about Mexico—its economic prospects, its security situation, and the changing immigration flows to the United States. We also touched on Brazil, and whether one should be bullish or bearish on its future. Read more »

U.S.-Mexico Relations Beyond the 2012 Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, May 3, 2012
James F. Hoge Jr., Robert A. Pastor, and Jorge Castañeda discuss the future of U.S.-Mexico relations (Don Pollard/CFR).

The Council on Foreign Relations held a half day symposium this past Tuesday entitled “U.S-Mexico Relations Beyond the 2012 Elections.” The first panel with Alejandro Hope, Eric Olson, and myself focused on U.S.-Mexico security cooperation. We started off discussing the recent drop in violence in the first quarter of the year, and then turned to how cooperation could and should continue (but shift) with the next U.S. and Mexican administrations, stressing the need to strengthen Mexico’s civilian law enforcement and criminal justice institutions. Read more »