Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

China’s Economic Role in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, October 26, 2012
Worker walks past by containers from China Shipping company at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos city Worker walks past by containers from China Shipping company at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos city (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters).

There is much talk of China’s escalating economic influence in Latin America. But it’s worth looking at what has (and hasn’t) actually happened in the three main ways that China interacts with the region’s economies: trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and loans (from state-owned banks). Read more »

Evolution of Latin America’s Economies

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I’ve been looking recently at the structural changes in many of Latin America’s economies (through the evolution of their exports). The different trajectories are quite striking, as you can see in the graphs below.

Out of Latin America’s biggest economies, Mexico has transformed the most. In the 1980s the manufacturing sector comprised just 10 percent of total exports; today it is over 75 percent. Mexico’s economic diversification and dynamism, especially in the automotive and electronic industries, have held oil at a steady 10-15 percent of exports for the last twenty years, even as oil prices have risen (though, in fairness, production has also declined). Read more »

Latinos May Choose the Next U.S. President

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, October 11, 2012
Alberto Rebolldo casts his ballot in the midterm elections at Harts Coin Laundry in Chicago (John Gress/Courtesy Reuters). Alberto Rebolldo casts his ballot in the midterm elections at Harts Coin Laundry in Chicago (John Gress/Courtesy Reuters).

A recent Pew Hispanic Center report on trends in Latino voter participation counts a record 24 million Latinos as eligible to vote in November’s presidential election (11 percent of all potential voters). It also finds that Latinos are particularly important in several battleground states. Their rising numbers and geographic concentration suggest that if and how Latinos vote on November 6 could determine the race. Read more »

Venezuelan Election Roundup

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves the national flag while celebrating from a balcony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas (Jorge Silva/Courtesy Reuters). Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves the national flag while celebrating from a balcony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas (Jorge Silva/Courtesy Reuters).

On Sunday Hugo Chávez won his third presidential term. With 55 percent of the total vote, he bested opponent Henrique Capriles by almost 11 percent. With the dust now settling and celebrations or mourning (depending on your politics) coming to an end, here is a roundup of insights into how and why Chávez defeated Capriles, and what this might mean for the next six years. Read more »

U.S. Drug Policy’s Third Way: A Conversation with Gil Kerlikowske

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, October 5, 2012
U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske addresses the media during an anti-drug addiction meeting in Mexico City (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske addresses the media during an anti-drug addiction meeting in Mexico City (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past year, public frustration in Latin America has been mounting toward the international drug control regime. Latin American leaders brought the drug policy debate to the forefront at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena last April, where the thirty-four heads of state agreed to review and discuss all possible approaches (a process that is now underway). This week at the United Nations General Assembly, Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico’s governments issued a joint declaration, outlining their recommendations for global drug policy and specifically asking the United Nations to “exercise its leadership and conduct deep reflection to analyze all available options.” Read more »

Latin America’s Growing Social Network

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, October 3, 2012
A cholita looks at her facebook page at a public internet shop in La Paz (David Mercado/Courtesy Reuters). A cholita looks at her facebook page at a public internet shop in La Paz (David Mercado/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2000 only 8 million Latin Americans were active online. Today that number has ballooned to 129 million regular users—more than a 1000 percent increase—with almost all (127 million) signing in to their social media accounts at least once a month. The number of absolute and relative users differs by country, but the upward trend has been steady across the region, led in sheer number by Brazilians and in time dedicated by Argentineans and Chileans (10 hours and 8.7 hours a month respectively). Read more »