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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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 »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America Holds Steady in 2013

by Shannon K. O'Neil
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
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
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
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 »