Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

Guest Post: Sustaining Mexico’s Energy Reform

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Mexican Fund for Stabilization and Development Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (C), President of Mexico's Senate Raul Cervantes (L) and President of the Chamber of Deputies Jose Gonzalez hold up a written version of an energy reform at the National Palace in Mexico City August 11, 2014 (Edgar Garrido/Reuters).

This is a guest post by Greg Mendoza, an MA student at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. He previously was an intern in the Latin America Studies program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Last year, Mexico passed a historic energy reform to end over seventy years of exclusive state control of the energy sector. Some analysts estimate drastic changes in the sector—with upwards of twenty billion dollars in foreign direct investment a year that could boost GDP 2 percent annually by 2025. Read more »

Lights Out: Brazil’s Power Problem

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A view of the Itaipu Hydroelectric dam, the world's largest operational electricity generator, on the Brazilian side of the border with Paraguay, in Foz do Iguacu in this 2005 file photo. A major electricity outage at the dam left tens of millions of people in Brazil's two largest cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro without power on November 10, 2009, according to the Brazilian director of the Itaipu dam (Rickey Rogers/Courtesy Reuters). A view of the Itaipu Hydroelectric dam, the world's largest operational electricity generator, on the Brazilian side of the border with Paraguay, in Foz do Iguacu in this 2005 file photo. A major electricity outage at the dam left tens of millions of people in Brazil's two largest cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro without power on November 10, 2009, according to the Brazilian director of the Itaipu dam (Rickey Rogers/Courtesy Reuters).

With the World Cup over, Brazilians are turning to their next big event—October’s presidential elections. While President Dilma Rousseff still leads in the polls, her margins continue to shrink. A recent Datafolha poll puts Rousseff and Aecio Neves—her leading challenger—as statistically tied in a hypothetical second round. Read more »

Guest Post: Mexico’s Aerospace Sector Takes Flight

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, August 7, 2014
An Aeromexico Boeing 777 taxis after completing the first ever commercial transatlantic flight using biofuel between Mexico City and Madrid at Madrid's Barajas airport August 2, 2011 (Paul Hanna/Courtesy Reuters). An Aeromexico Boeing 777 taxis after completing the first ever commercial transatlantic flight using biofuel between Mexico City and Madrid at Madrid's Barajas airport August 2, 2011 (Paul Hanna/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Stephanie Leutert, who is beginning an MA in Global Affairs at Yale University in the fall. She previously was my research associate in the Latin America Studies program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Argentina Defaults

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, August 1, 2014
A woman walks past a graffiti that reads "No to the debt payment" in Buenos Aires, July 28, 2014. Time is running out for Argentina to pay "holdout" investors
suing Latin America's No. 3 economy for full payment on their bonds, or reach a deal that buys more time to avert a default (Marcos Brindicci/Courtesy Reuters). A woman walks past a graffiti that reads "No to the debt payment" in Buenos Aires, July 28, 2014. Time is running out for Argentina to pay "holdout" investors suing Latin America's No. 3 economy for full payment on their bonds, or reach a deal that buys more time to avert a default (Marcos Brindicci/Courtesy Reuters).

Two days ago, Argentina failed to come to an agreement with its holdout creditors and defaulted for the second time in thirteen years. In this piece for Foreign Policy, I explain why this outcome is not so surprising. You can read the beginning of the piece below:  Read more »

Dos Naciones Indivisibles on Es la Hora de Opinar

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Es la Hora de Opinar. Es la Hora de Opinar.

Two weeks ago, I was down in Mexico for the launch of the Spanish-language version of my book, Dos Naciones Indivisibles: México, Estados Unidos, y el Camino por Venir. During my time there, I had the pleasure of talking with Leo Zuckermann and Javier Tello on FOROtv’s Es la Hora de Opinar. We had a lively conversation on Mexico and US-Mexico relations. You can watch it here. Read more »

Immigration Reform Is Happening

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, July 14, 2014
Honduran national Maria (no last name given) kisses Daniel, 4, with Alejandra, 7, and Marvin, 5, (R-L) as she waits in an isolation cell after she was caught attempting an undocumented entry into the U.S. from Mexico in Laredo, Texas, May 3, 2006 (Rick Wilking/Courtesy Reuters). Honduran national Maria (no last name given) kisses Daniel, 4, with Alejandra, 7, and Marvin, 5, (R-L) as she waits in an isolation cell after she was caught attempting an undocumented entry into the U.S. from Mexico in Laredo, Texas, May 3, 2006 (Rick Wilking/Courtesy Reuters).

Despite the standstill in Congress on immigration reform, state and local governments have been very active in passing their own immigration legislation. In this article for Foreign Policy, I look at what different states and cities are doing regarding immigration and the effects of their policies. You can read the beginning of the piece below:  Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America Holds Steady in 2013

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Robots weld cars at the Ford Motor Company's Sao Bernardo do Campo facility in Sao Bernardo do Campo, June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters). Robots weld cars at the Ford Motor Company's Sao Bernardo do Campo facility in Sao Bernardo do Campo, June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2013, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America reached $185 billion according to the latest ECLAC report, continuing the slight upward trend of the last three years. Brazil maintained its number one position as the largest FDI destination, raking in $64 billion (over one third of all regional FDI). Mexico came in second, with some $38 billion (boosted by the $13 billion purchase of the rest of Modelo by Belgian based Anheuser-Busch InBev, a company run by Brazilians). Mexico’s Pacific Alliance partners—Chile, Colombia, Peru—also had a fruitful year, with a combined $47 billion in investment. And despite its economic woes, Argentina garnered $9 billion. Read more »

Will the World Cup Actually Help Brazil to Solve Its Problems?

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, June 16, 2014
Residents run to celebrate after decorating a street in the colours of Brazil’s national flag, ahead of the 2014 World Cup, in the Taguatinga neighbourhood of Brasilia, June 8, 2014 (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters). Residents run to celebrate after decorating a street in the colours of Brazil’s national flag, ahead of the 2014 World Cup, in the Taguatinga neighbourhood of Brasilia, June 8, 2014 (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters).

In the lead-up to the World Cup and through the first games, Brazilians have taken to the streets in protest. In this post for Daniel Altman on ForeignPolicy.com, I look at why these demands for change could help Brazil overcome its many domestic problems. The post begins: Read more »

Immigration Reform Is Dead, Precisely When We Need It Most

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, June 13, 2014
Migrants, consisting of mostly women and children, who just disembarked from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bus wait for a Greyhound official to process their tickets to their next destination at a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona, May 29, 2014 (Samantha Sais/Courtesy Reuters). Migrants, consisting of mostly women and children, who just disembarked from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bus wait for a Greyhound official to process their tickets to their next destination at a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona, May 29, 2014 (Samantha Sais/Courtesy Reuters).

With Eric Cantor’s loss earlier this week, most believe immigration reform is dead. Yet with tens of thousands of Mexican and Central American children flooding across the U.S. southern border, a legislative overhaul is even more important. In this piece for Foreign Policy, I look at why these kids are coming and what we need to do about it. You can read the beginning of the piece below: Read more »

Mexico Energy Talks

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, June 2, 2014
Pemex Engineers Two engineers with Mexico's state owned oil company, PEMEX (Petroleos de Mexico), watch work on an oil platform in the Sen oil field, in the swampy south eastern state of Tabasco, September 20, 2000 (Andrew Winning/Courtesy Reuters).

I recently had the opportunity, along with Vianovo’s James Taylor,  to chat with Mexican Congressman Javier Treviño, one of the country’s energy reform leaders. We focused on what investors and analysts can expect from the secondary legislation currently being hammered out in Mexico’s Congress—touching on the development of Mexico’s new energy model, national content requirements, the role of state and local governments, and environmental and security considerations. Read more »