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"

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 »

Latin American Integration: Two Hundred Years of Efforts

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man walks past a banner reading 'Capital of integration' in Caracas A man walks past a banner reading 'Capital of integration' in Caracas (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Latin American integration efforts have been a continuous fixture throughout much of the last century, but in recent years there has been a flurry of new initiatives, with leaders re-emphasizing regional ties. The increasing number of high-profile presidential and ministerial summits have brought renewed promises and commitments to deepen regional political, economic, social, and developmental cooperation, and have spurred the creation of new political and economic bodies tasked with uniting the region. Read more »

Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: Worth the Price?

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Children sit in their classroom on their first day of school for six months in Oaxaca (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). Children sit in their classroom on their first day of school for six months in Oaxaca (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

In the economic development world, one of Latin America’s claims to fame are its conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs), which provide direct money transfers to low-income families who send their children to school and/or get basic health care. A few of these programs, such as Bolsa Família in Brazil and Oportunidades in Mexico, reach millions of families (some 20 percent of the two countries’ households). Others are smaller and more targeted toward the extreme poor, such as Chile Solidario in Chile, Familias en Acción in Colombia, and Bono de Desarrollo Humano in Ecuador. Most now boast at least a decade in place, providing a track record to test their reach and effectiveness. Read more »

Violence and Insecurity in Latin America: New Survey Findings

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People in a local bus service travel past a crime scene, where three men were shot dead, in Monterrey (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). People in a local bus service travel past a crime scene, where three men were shot dead, in Monterrey (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Though specific countries usually capture the headlines for their bloodiness—Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and often Colombia—security problems are widespread throughout Latin America. For the region which holds the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most violent, a new Latinobarómetro report looks at the recent trends, and through survey data,  tries to tease out how this affects perceptions, people, and, more broadly, democracy. Read more »

Latin America’s Economic Outlook

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Source: The 2012 IMF Economic Outlook Report for the Western Hemisphere Source: The 2012 IMF Economic Outlook Report for the Western Hemisphere

The recent IMF economic outlook report entitled, “The Western Hemisphere: Rebuilding Strength and Flexibility,” is overall quite bullish on the region. Fueled by favorable commodity prices and plentiful international credit, it lauds (as much as the IMF does) the steady growth of the past decade. Perhaps as important for the IMF, many Latin American governments have used rising revenues in economically sound ways. The region as a whole has turned deficits to surpluses, and lowered debt to GDP levels by some 15 percent. Many countries invested in targeted social programs, helping reduce regional poverty levels from 44 percent in 2002 to 33 percent in 2008. Read more »

Guest Post: Colombia’s Displaced

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Group of internally displaced Colombians protest at the entrance of AG headquarters in Bogota (Jose Gomez/Courtesy Reuters). Group of internally displaced Colombians protest at the entrance of AG headquarters in Bogota (Jose Gomez/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Stephanie Leutert, a research associate here at the Council on Foreign Relations who works with me in the Latin America program.

The best known Colombian security story is that of declining violence. Indeed its homicide rate dropped from near 80 homicides per 100,000 in 1990 to 32 per 100,000 in 2010 lower than its eastern neighbor Venezuela, or the notoriously violent Central American countries to the north. In fact, Colombian police now share best practices and security advice with their Honduran and El Salvadoran counterparts, and are training twelve thousand Mexican officers. Read more »

Why the Summit of the Americas Matters

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Colombian policemen stand in front of the Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena Colombian policemen stand in front of the Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena (Jose Gomez/Courtesy Reuters).

The sixth Summit of the Americas on April 14-15 is part of an intense spring of bilateral and regional interactions in the hemisphere. It will bring together thirty-three heads of state from nearly every member of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cartegena, Colombia, to discuss regional issues ranging from expanding economic ties to turning back a surge in criminal activity. Read more »