Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Brazil"

A Game of Inches: The Uncertain Fight Against Corruption in Latin America

by Matthew Taylor
3 out of 3, anticorruption, Car Wash investigation, Claudia Paz y Paz, corruption, International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Matthew Stephenson, Sérgio Moro A boy holds a sign which reads, "No more corruption", during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, in downtown Guatemala City, May 30, 2015 (Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez).

Harvard’s inimitable Matthew Stephenson this week published a thought-provoking blog post comparing anticorruption efforts in Asia and Latin America. Crudely summarizing Stephenson’s argument, a few years ago many looked to Asia as the gold standard in anticorruption efforts, in part because of the success of independent and effective anticorruption agencies (ACAs) in the region. But recent news of political meddling with Hong Kong’s ACA, brazen kleptocracy in Malaysia’s state development fund, and efforts to water down reform in Indonesia all suggest that the pendulum is swinging in a less positive direction. By contrast, Stephenson is optimistic about the important gains made in recent years in Latin America, including by Guatemala’s International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG), Brazil’s Car Wash investigation, elections in Peru and Argentina that highlighted voter frustration with corruption, and Mexico’s “3 out of 3” reforms. Read more »

Brazil’s Agonizing August

by Matthew Taylor
Brazil, 2016 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Zika, August, Dilma Rousseff, impeachment, Michel Temer, reforms, pension reform, labor reform, elections, democracy, developmentalist economic policies, coalitional political system Brazil's David Luiz lies on the pitch after missing a goal during the 2014 World Cup third-place playoff between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 12, 2014 (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino).

The coming month will be a stressful one for Brazilians.

The Olympic opening ceremony on August 5 may have two rival presidents in attendance, killer mosquitoes, pesky media, and now, the potential for terrorism. Most Brazilians had long hoped the games would be a chaotic but happy mess, like the 2014 World Cup, and few anticipated an embarrassment. But sentiment has shifted with the arrest of a dozen alleged homegrown extremists. Terrorism can be added to the long litany of potential problems that have led Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes to note that “contingencies are always possible,” and that the Olympics have been a “lost opportunity” for Brazil. Read more »

Corruption, Politics, and Corporate Transparency in Latin America

by Matthew Taylor
anticorruption, campaign spending limits, corporate donations, corporate transparency, corruption, electoral finance, illegal enrichment, influence peddling, Lava Jato, multilatinas, multinationals, Odebrecht, politics, transparency Gustavo de Hoyos (C), president of the Mexican Employers' Confederation (COPARMEX), holds a placard during a protest to demand senators to approve the original proposal of the National Anticorruption System, at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico, June 16, 2016. The placard reads: "Businessmen demand to stop corruption. #SNA" (Reuters/Ginnette Riquelme).

It is Latin America’s anticorruption season. Deep beneath the waves of revulsion about scandal, graft, and the general filthiness of local politics has been a profound concern with democracy. In particular, there is a growing awareness that the dangerous liaisons between corruption and electoral finance threaten the stability and legitimacy of elected governments in the region. While there is plenty of good news about the impressive corruption busters who are shaking up settled patterns of corruption and impunity in the region, many of the underlying links between corporate transparency, corruption, and campaign finance remain deeply troubling and potentially destabilizing. Read more »

Argentina and Brazil Grow Together

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Argentina, Brazil, corruption, global supply chains, high expectations, Mauricio Macri, Michel Temer, reform, South America, stagnant growth, trade Hundreds of cars stand in the port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil December 1, 2015 (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes).

In my piece published this week on Foreignaffairs.com I reflect on Argentina’s and Brazil’s current political and economic situations. I argue that while their current challenges are their own, a potential long-term solution to their problems comes from each other—namely working to build an integrated South American economic hub. You can read the first two paragraphs of the article below: Read more »

Venezuela’s Woes Reach Mercosur

by Matthew Taylor
Mercosur, trade, Pacific Alliance, Venezuela, European Union, democratic clause, Nicolas Maduro, Jose Serra, Delcy Rodriguez Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro stands in front of an image depicting the country's late President Hugo Chavez during a meeting with members of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV) in Caracas, in this handout picture provided by Miraflores Palace on January 29, 2016 (Reuters/Miraflores Palace).

Mercosur is under considerable internal strain. As at other times in the trade bloc’s history, shifting political winds and changing trade priorities have placed the member countries at loggerheads. The five-member organization is in the midst of what is perhaps the most severe of its periodic identity crises, exacerbated by the Left’s waning power in the region, the rise of the Pacific Alliance, and renewed member interest in external trade agreements. Read more »

Brazil’s Challenging Distractions

by Matthew Taylor
Michel Temer, impeachment, Dilma Rousseff, Lava Jato, Renan Calheiros, Jose Sarney, Romero Juca, anticorruption, Petrobras, Ministerio Publico, Leo Pinheiro, Marina Silva, Marcelo Odebrecht, Zelotes, Eduardo Cunha Brazil's interim President Michel Temer reacts during the inauguration ceremony of new presidents of state companies, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, June 1, 2016 (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino).

Michel Temer’s first month as interim president has not been the stuff of dreams. Even though important elements of urgently needed economic reforms have advanced, impeachment politics continue to cast a long shadow, corruption investigations continue to percolate, and Temer’s legitimacy remains under constant assault. Read more »

Legitimacy and the Battle to Remove Rousseff

by Matthew Taylor
President Dilma Rousseff, Vice President Michel Temer, impeachment, legitimacy, Ricardo Janot, PSDB, PMDB, Lava Jato, Brasilia Brazil's Vice President Michel Temer (L) talks with President Dilma Rousseff during a ceremony to announce the adaptation criteria in the AM and FM broadcasting grants, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, November 24, 2015 (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).

The past week has brought a number of puzzling new feints and jabs in Brasília’s bloody political cage match:

– Most dramatically, reputable news organizations are reporting that President Dilma Rousseff is contemplating resigning from office later this week, despite having spent much of the past year denying that she would ever countenance resignation; Read more »

CFR Conference Call: Brazil Update

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, Impeachment Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a news conference for foreign journalists at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil April 19, 2016 (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).

Earlier this week I had the chance to talk with Michael T. Derham, a partner with Novam Portam, about the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and Brazil’s possible paths forward. You can listen to our conversation here.

Brazil’s Impending Hangover

by Matthew Taylor
President Dilma Rousseff, Michel Temer, impeachment, Workers' Party, economic mismanagement, political turmoil, hangover, Renan Calheiros, Supreme Federal Tribunal, Oscar Vilhena Vieira, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, Eduardo Cunha, Lava Jato, Car Wash investigation, golpismo Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a signing ceremony of a deal between mining company Samarco and its owners, BHP Billiton and Vale SA, with the Brazilian government at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 2, 2016 (Adriano Machado/Reuters).

After months of suspense, President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment looks set to proceed in a floor vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Sunday, April 17. At present, impeachment seems more likely than not: Vice President Michel Temer and his allies have overcome many of the political hurdles to impeachment by skillfully creating a bandwagon effect among legislators, in part by arguing that there is little point in continued support for the outgoing Rousseff and that now is the time to make sweet deals with the incoming Temer administration. This week’s desertions mean that of the seven largest parties in Congress, only one (the PT) still supports the president, while five are in opposition (PMDB, PSDB, PP, PSB, and DEM) and one is still officially undecided (PR). Read more »

Five Things Washington Should Do to Help Latin America Curb Corruption

by Guest Blogger for Matthew Taylor
Corruption, Latin America, Operation car Wash, U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs, antimoney laundering, Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act, International Center for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), U.S. real estate market Paraguayan prosecutors Hernan Galeano (C), Federico Espinoza (center, R) and Chief Prosecutor Roberto Zacarias hold a news conference in Asuncion, January 8, 2016. Paraguayan state prosecutors on Thursday raided the headquarters of South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL after a request for cooperation from U.S. justice officials probing corruption inside world soccer, the prosecution office said (Jorge Adorno/Reuters).

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Richard Messick, an anticorruption specialist. It is based on a talk he gave at a CFR roundtable on March 24 hosted by Matthew M. Taylor, adjunct senior fellow for Latin America Studies.

One of the most promising developments in U.S. foreign relations is the all-out war on corruption being waged across Latin America. From “Operation Car Wash” in Brazil to investigations of presidential wrongdoing in Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama, across the region independent, tenacious prosecutors and investigators are out to end the massive theft of state resources that for so long has hobbled political development and throttled economic growth. The United States should be cheering for these corruption warriors, for we have much to gain if they succeed. Less corruption translates into more stable, reliable political allies; it means faster, more equitable growth and that means shared prosperity and less northward migration. Finally, less corruption in government will offer U.S. firms new opportunities. Think what the end of corruption in Brazilian public works would mean for U.S. engineering and construction companies. Read more »