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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Showing posts for "Colombia"

This Year’s Presidential Elections in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Voters wait in line to cast their vote in a presidential election runoff at a polling station outside in San Salvador March 9, 2014 (Henry Romero/Courtesy Reuters). Voters wait in line to cast their vote in a presidential election runoff at a polling station outside in San Salvador March 9, 2014 (Henry Romero/Courtesy Reuters).

Earlier this week, Salvadorans headed to the polls to cast their ballots in a presidential runoff election, since on February 2 the candidates failed to reach the 50 percent threshold to avoid a second round. In the runoff’s lead up, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander and the current vice president from the ruling party, looked poised for an easy win over his closest opponent Norman Quijano from the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). But with the final ballot count separating the candidates by some 0.2 percent of the votes and with allegations of fraud, it seems that the protests and debates surrounding this election are far from over. Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment and Jobs in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Employees work at an assembly line at a Ford manufacturing plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters). Employees work at an assembly line at a Ford manufacturing plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2012 Latin America received its largest amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) to date: $170 billion or 12 percent of global flows. These flows went into a range of sectors from mining and petroleum production to high skilled and low skilled manufacturing to telecommunications and electricity. Read more »

Election Day Roundup

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People wait to vote at Good Shepherd Methodist Church during the U.S. presidential election in Kissimmee, Florida People wait to vote at Good Shepherd Methodist Church during the U.S. presidential election in Kissimmee, Florida (Scott Miller/Courtesy Reuters).

As Americans vote today, a record 23 million Latinos can head to the polls. Here is a roundup of the candidates’ stated views on immigration, regional security, and trade with Latin America—issues that are often of direct interest for this growing voter bloc, but also will more generally affect all Americans over the next four years. Read more »

Evolution of Latin America’s Economies

by Shannon K. O'Neil

I’ve been looking recently at the structural changes in many of Latin America’s economies (through the evolution of their exports). The different trajectories are quite striking, as you can see in the graphs below.

Out of Latin America’s biggest economies, Mexico has transformed the most. In the 1980s the manufacturing sector comprised just 10 percent of total exports; today it is over 75 percent. Mexico’s economic diversification and dynamism, especially in the automotive and electronic industries, have held oil at a steady 10-15 percent of exports for the last twenty years, even as oil prices have risen (though, in fairness, production has also declined). Read more »

U.S. Drug Policy’s Third Way: A Conversation with Gil Kerlikowske

by Shannon K. O'Neil
U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske addresses the media during an anti-drug addiction meeting in Mexico City (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske addresses the media during an anti-drug addiction meeting in Mexico City (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past year, public frustration in Latin America has been mounting toward the international drug control regime. Latin American leaders brought the drug policy debate to the forefront at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena last April, where the thirty-four heads of state agreed to review and discuss all possible approaches (a process that is now underway). This week at the United Nations General Assembly, Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico’s governments issued a joint declaration, outlining their recommendations for global drug policy and specifically asking the United Nations to “exercise its leadership and conduct deep reflection to analyze all available options.” Read more »

Chihuahua’s Version of Colombia’s Wealth Tax

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A soldier walks past the police headquarters where Marisol Valles Garcia used to work as the police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). A soldier walks past the police headquarters where Marisol Valles Garcia used to work as the police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

I’ve argued in the past that to truly address the security situation, Mexico needs the buy in of its citizens—and particularly of its elites. One way of achieving this is to levy a tax on the wealthy or business owners, those most able to shoulder the costs of this vital public good. Read more »

The Democratic Platform on Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A convention-goer stands on the convention floor on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte A convention-goer stands on the convention floor on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

This week it is the Democrats who are putting forth their platform, which can be found in its entirety here. Like its Republican counterpart, the platform is heavily focused on domestic issues (most significantly on the middle class and job creation), leaving little ink for the United States’ relationship with Latin America. When the Democratic platform does address its southern neighbors, the emphasis is two pronged: security and economics. Read more »

Latin America: Community Building Across Borders

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Shadows on a slum wall are cast by Nicaraguan immigrants to Costa Rica during a prayer session in the neighborhood of Triangulo de la Solidaridad Shadows on a slum wall are cast by Nicaraguan immigrants to Costa Rica during a prayer session in the neighborhood of Triangulo de la Solidaridad (Juan Carlos Ulate/Courtesy Reuters).

Alongside the tentative formal efforts at economic and political integration, people are also increasingly bringing the region together. A recent uptick in intra-regional movement—through travel, study, and immigration—has allowed Latin Americans to get to know each other better, and in the process bind together both their communities and their economies. Read more »

The Limited Integration of Latin American Governance

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A Brazilian Navy boat patrols the Copacabana beach as national flags flutter on the Copacabana Fort (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). A Brazilian Navy boat patrols the Copacabana beach as national flags flutter on the Copacabana Fort (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

The aspiration to integrate governance between Latin America’s twenty nations to address issues ranging from human rights to economic development to security concerns are long-held, but have led to mostly ephemeral results. The response for frustrated integrationists has often been to create new organizations, leading to a proliferation of regional and sub-regional negotiating bodies. Read more »

Latin America: Trading and Investing Together

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras (Eliana Aponte/Courtesy Reuters).

Economic ties lead Latin America’s integration efforts. Promising some of the greatest concrete benefits—larger markets, improved livelihoods, and enhanced global economic power—leaders and communities alike have tried to integrate the region through three main means: trade, infrastructure, and investment. Read more »