Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

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Social Mobility in Mexico

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Mexico, social mobility A boy walks past a mural depicting a child shooting an RPG loaded with school supplies in Ciudad Juarez February 10, 2012. The word reads, "Education" (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Courtesy Reuters).

Earlier this month, the Espinosa Yglesias Research Centre (CEEY) launched the English version of its most recent report on social mobility in Mexico. Creating a measure that combines 2011 household assets and occupational status, they find both good and bad news for aspiring Mexicans. For those in the middle, chances of moving up (or down) are somewhat encouraging, as only a quarter will end up in the same economic group as their parents. But on the richer and poorer ends, the chances of intergenerational change are much lower—only one out of every two individuals will lead an economically different life. Read more »

North America by the Numbers

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Oil Pipelines Pipelines carrying steam to wellheads and heavy oil back to the processing plant line the roads and boreal forest at the Cenovus Energy Christina Lake Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) project 120 km (74 miles) south of Fort McMurray, Alberta, August 15, 2013. Cenovus currently produces 100,000 barrels of heavy oil per day at their Christina Lake tar sands project (Todd Korol/Courtesy Reuters).

How much do Canada and Mexico matter for the United States? Here are a few snapshots illustrating the importance of our combined global heft and influence.

  • North American countries are joined by 7,500 miles of land borders, among the longest in the world.
  • Though comprising less than 7 percent of the world’s population, Canada, Mexico and the United States produce nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP—some 20 trillion dollars.
  • Read more »

A Runoff for Brazil’s Rousseff and Neves

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil presidential elections 2014 Brazil's presidential candidates Aecio Neves (R) of Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) and Dilma Rousseff of Workers Party (PT) take part in a TV debate in Rio de Janeiro October 2, 2014. Brazil will be be holding its general elections on October 5, to elect the country's National Congress, president, state governors and state legislatures (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won the first–round of the 2014 presidential election yesterday with almost 42 percent of the vote. The real surprise of the contest, however, came in Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) nominee Aecio Neves’s impressive second place finish, capturing a third of voters and surpassing Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB). Although Neves’s polling numbers had risen in the election lead–up, few expected such a strong showing. Read more »

North America: Time for a New Focus

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Task Force on North America U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) as Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto looks on after attending a news conference, at the North American Leaders' Summit in Toluca near Mexico City, February 19, 2014 (Henry Romero/Courtesy Reuters).

Today I am pleased to launch CFR’s Independent Task Force on North America. I have been working with co-chairs David H. Petraeus and Robert Zoellick, as well as some twenty other Task Force members and observers, over the past year to better understand the myriad issues facing Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and to make concrete policy recommendations for the U.S. government to strengthen the region. We find that while not always the most urgent of policy issues, North America is as vitally important to the United States’ future. Read more »

A Conversation with Enrique Peña Nieto

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Enrique Pena Nieto (Don Pollard/Courtesy Don Pollard Photo).

Yesterday, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico joined us at the Council on Foreign Relations as part of the Russel C. Leffingwell Lecture series. In a conversation with Robert Rubin, Co-Chairman of CFR, President Peña Nieto discussed the progress of the reforms initiated under his administration and current developments in his country. Read more »

South-South Trade and Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
South-south trade, developing south trade, inter-industry trade, Latin America, exports, intermediary goods Workers harvest soy in a farm during a demonstration of harvest machines in Correntina, Bahia March 31, 2010. Brazil's 2009/10 soybean production is estimated to be 67.5 million tonnes (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

The economic rise of the developing south is one of the biggest trends of the last decade, accelerated by the 2008 global economic downturn. Since 2001 trade between these countries has grown 18 percent a year on average, outpacing global trade growth of 11 percent. Nearly half of all exports worldwide now originate in emerging markets—predominantly Asia. Read more »

Lights Out: Brazil’s Power Problem

by Shannon K. O'Neil
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 »

Argentina Defaults

by Shannon K. O'Neil
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
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
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 »