Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

Mexico ¿Cómo Vamos?

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two of Mexico’s leading think tanks—Mexico Evalúa and IMCO—launched a new website this week, titled Mexico ¿cómo vamos? It lays out a perhaps surprising vision for Mexico: as a leading global economy. The website brings together some sixty economic and public policy experts from varying backgrounds to focus on where Mexico’s economy stands today and what it needs to do to achieve this ambitious future. Providing both raw data and expert analysis, the website identifies attainable goals in six critical areas (investment, competition, competitiveness, well-being, productivity, and exports), with the aim of expanding the middle class, reducing inequality, and promoting social inclusion. Read more »

President Felipe Calderón Discusses Mexico’s Future

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, September 24, 2012

This morning, CFR hosted Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón in its Washington D.C. office for a brief presentation and question and answer session (you can read the transcript here). The conversation covered a vast number of topics, with Calderón’s prepared remarks highlighting his administration’s achievements and the questions and answers delving deeper into specific issues, such as Mexico’s energy sector and Calderón’s fight against organized crime. Read more »

Latin America Becomes More Competitive

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, September 20, 2012
Brazilian children Alexandre da Costa (L) and Augusto Ribeiro use a computer at Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). Brazilian children Alexandre da Costa (L) and Augusto Ribeiro use a computer at Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

The Global Competitiveness Index for 2012-2013 came out this month, ranking 144 countries from around the world on twelve “pillars of competitiveness” (ranging from “basic requirements” such as institutions and infrastructure to more advanced categories such as innovation and business sophistication). In its rankings, Latin America’s countries fell pretty much right in the list’s center, with three countries (Chile, Panama, and Brazil) ranking in the top third, six countries falling in the bottom third (El Salvador, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela), and the rest spread throughout the middle. Read more »

Chihuahua’s Version of Colombia’s Wealth Tax

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, September 18, 2012
A soldier walks past the police headquarters where Marisol Valles Garcia used to work as the police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). A soldier walks past the police headquarters where Marisol Valles Garcia used to work as the police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

I’ve argued in the past that to truly address the security situation, Mexico needs the buy in of its citizens—and particularly of its elites. One way of achieving this is to levy a tax on the wealthy or business owners, those most able to shoulder the costs of this vital public good. Read more »

Latino Immigrants as Job Creators

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, September 13, 2012
Oswaldo Alvarado helps customers at Importaciones Valentinas grocery and pinata store in Phoenix Oswaldo Alvarado helps customers at Importaciones Valentinas grocery and pinata store in Phoenix (Joshua Lott/Courtey Reuters).

CFR’s Renewing America initiative just released a new report by Alexandra Starr, a fellow at the New America Foundation, titled “Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs: How to Capitalize on Their Economic Potential.” Through statistics and personal stories, the report explores Latino immigrant entrepreneurs’ growing contributions to the U.S. economy. Read more »

Venezuela’s Potentially Violent Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez shakes hands with opposition governor from the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, during a ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez shakes hands with opposition governor from the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, during a ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas (Courtesy Reuters).

Elections are always times of uneasiness, but the upcoming October 7th presidential elections in Venezuela have more than the normal share of uncertainty. There are concerns over President Chavez’s health and whether he will be able to fulfill a third six-year term. There are serious worries over the fairness of the election given the concentration of pro-Chavez media attention, the use of public resources for influencing voters (and for decorating public buildings), and the closing of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami (the home of a strong opposition voting bloc). Finally, there are worries that even if the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, is successful at the ballot box, the current government may not recognize the results. Read more »

Review of Dealing Death and Drugs

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, September 7, 2012
Beto O'Rourke Speaks at the Candidate Forum (Beto O'Rourke/Flickr) Beto O'Rourke Speaks at the Candidate Forum (Beto O'Rourke/Flickr)

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat running for the 16th District of Texas (El Paso and its environs), and a shoe-in for the seat. Among his many accomplishments, the former city councilman is a published author of the thoughtful if provocative book, Dealing Death and Drugs, which he wrote in 2011 with fellow councilwoman Susie Byrd. Read more »

The Democratic Platform on Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, September 5, 2012
A convention-goer stands on the convention floor on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte A convention-goer stands on the convention floor on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

This week it is the Democrats who are putting forth their platform, which can be found in its entirety here. Like its Republican counterpart, the platform is heavily focused on domestic issues (most significantly on the middle class and job creation), leaving little ink for the United States’ relationship with Latin America. When the Democratic platform does address its southern neighbors, the emphasis is two pronged: security and economics. Read more »