Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

Think Again: Immigration

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, January 30, 2013
A woman reads a pamphlet prior to being naturalized as a U.S. citizen during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts July 14, 2010. A woman reads a pamphlet prior to being naturalized as a U.S. citizen during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts July 14, 2010 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama outlined his vision yesterday in Las Vegas for a comprehensive immigration reform, officially kicking off what will undoubtedly be a heated countrywide debate. With so many differing (and at times blatantly false) statistics and assertions circling the immigration discussion, here is my take, via Foreign Policy, debunking five of the biggest myths. Do you have others? Let me know! Read more »

Guest Post: Rafael Correa’s Smooth Road to Victory

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, January 24, 2013
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa addresses supporters during a rally announcing his re-election bid for February of 2013, in Quito Ecuador's President Rafael Correa addresses supporters during a rally announcing his re-election bid for February of 2013, in Quito (Guillermo Granja/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Stephanie Leutert, a research associate here at the Council on Foreign Relations who works with me in the Latin America program.

In less than a month, Ecuadorians will head to the polls to elect their next president, and will likely usher in another four years for Rafael Correa. For a country that famously went through seven presidents in the ten years before Correa took office, the administration’s longevity is a feat in itself. Many observers attribute his durability to the vast expansion of “bonos” or cash transfers to the poor, which now reach almost one in seven Ecuadorians. Others see his charisma, which resonates with so many Ecuadorians, as the key to his success. But Correa has another more unexpected ace card up his sleeve—the country’s roads. Read more »

Kirchners’ New Economic Populism

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Argentina is known for its populists leaders, as well as spectacular economic booms and busts. Yet looking at the economic data of the last fifty years, successive governments have, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, run fairly traditional countercyclical public policies. Government spending generally increased during downturns and slowed during spurts of economic growth. As you can see in the graph below, this trend was more noticeable in the 1960s and 1970s, but continued (if somewhat lessened) throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Read more »

U.S. Exports Depend on Mexico

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, January 11, 2013
Ford Motor production workers assemble batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti Twsp, Michigan (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters). Ford Motor production workers assemble batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti Twsp, Michigan (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters).

Surprising to many Americans is the importance of the United States’ trade with Mexico. While Asia captures the headlines, U.S. exports to Mexico are double those to China, and second only to Canada.

And while many of these goods come from border states—Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California—Mexico matters for much more of the union. Seventeen states send more than 10 percent of their exports to Mexico, and it is the number one or two destination for U.S. goods for nearly half the country. The graph below shows those states most economically dependent on our southern neighbor–notice that South Dakota and Nebraska outpace New Mexico and California. Read more »

What to Watch in 2013: U.S. Policy Toward Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, January 9, 2013
U.S. President Obama delivers a speech in front of banners representing Latin American nations in Santiago U.S. President Obama delivers a speech in front of banners representing Latin American nations in Santiago (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

2013 could be an interesting year for U.S. policy toward the region. Up first will likely be U.S. immigration reform. The outpouring of support from Latino voters in the November presidential election, helping push Barack Obama to victory, combined with the better organization and more aggressive stance of many pro-immigration advocates may motivate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to come up with legislative reforms. In fact Obama officials have already stated that they will turn to immigration early this year. Read more »

What to Watch in 2013: Latin America’s Presidential Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, January 3, 2013
Nicaraguan police carry ballot boxes, which will be used for the upcoming presidential election, in Managua Nicaraguan police carry ballot boxes, which will be used for the upcoming presidential election, in Managua (Oswaldo Rivas/Courtesy Reuters).

Last year Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic held presidential elections, leading to some of the region’s biggest news stories of the year: the PRI’s return to power and the strong second place showing from Venezuela’s opposition. With four scheduled presidential elections (and a possible fifth) in 2013, along with congressional and municipal elections in Argentina and Venezuela respectively, here is what you should be watching. Read more »