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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Mexico: Countering Drug Violence

by Shannon K. O'Neil

Mex kidsThree weeks ago, Reynosa, Mexico–just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas–exploded in violence. The Zetas and the Gulf cartels, once allies, began what may become a fight to the death. The turf war over a lucrative passageway to the United States reportedly claimed over one hundred lives, though no official headcount is available, as observers bemoan the lack of official presence–the local government as well as the army. Read more »

Brazil as an Emerging Power: The View from the United States

by Shannon K. O'Neil

cristo redentorExecutive Summary
The United States has always seen Brazil as a significant regional powerhouse, but its perceived importance has risen in the last decade. Due to Brazil’s economic strength, its hemispheric leadership, and its growing geostrategic role through multilateral international forums, it has become a vital player in both regional and global politics across numerous dimensions. While US recognition of Brazil’s political and economic emergence brought the question of how Washington should manage relations with Brasilia to the fore, the ability to translate this new awareness into concrete bilateral policies and partnerships remains difficult. Whether the US and Brazil will be willing and able to form a ‘special relationship’ remains unclear. Read more »

Breaking Mexico's Fall

by Shannon K. O'Neil

armyPhilip Caputo paints a grim picture of Mexico’s current war on drugs in which appears in the December 2009 issue of The Atlantic. His pessimism reflects more than just skyrocketing murders in places such as Ciudad Juarez, or the seeming inability of the local police forces and courts to get to the bottom of these crimes. His chief concern revolves around Mexico’s military. Read more »

Podcast: Regional Diplomacy on the Honduran Crisis

by Shannon K. O'Neil

<div xmlns:cc="" about=""><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=""></a> / <a rel="license" href="">CC BY-SA 2.0</a></div>The Council on Foreign Relations published my podcast on the state of emergency declared by Honduran de facto leader Roberto Micheletti on September 28 — the latest in the political crisis that began with the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya in June. Is the United States sending mixed messages on Honduras? Or is it following through on President Obama’s statement at the Summit of the Americas that the United States is no longer going to make unilateral decisions — that it is going to be up to the region to work together through multilateral institutions? Thus far, former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias has mediated the situation, and the Organization of American States (OAS) has taken the lead in managing the crisis. But because the OAS has been quite ineffective, other regional organizations such as Unasur might start to take a more prominent role in regional issues. By assuming a strong position on the need for Zelaya to be reinstated, Brazil has taken ownership of the political stalemate in Honduras, changing the nature of the conflict and the potential solution. But it remains unclear whether the stalemate will end before the elections in Honduras, currently scheduled for November 29. Time, however, is on the side of the de facto government. Read more »

Strengthening the Neighborhood: the Guadalajara Trilateral Summit

by Shannon K. O'Neil

Steep economic decline, rising public insecurity, and the resurgence of swine flu threaten North America today. As U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper head to Guadalajara, Mexico to meet with President Felipe Calderon, the agenda looks quite difficult. Add to this the equivocal support within the U.S. government for free trade, and the outlook for this summit looks grim. Yet now more than ever we need to appreciate the real lessons of NAFTA, and focus on our own neighborhood. All three countries will benefit from working together rather than moving apart. Read more »

Pardon the appearance…

by Shannon K. O'Neil

A quick note to readers: this blog will be undergoing some design upgrades in the coming days. If something looks different or temporarily broken, that’s why. Posts and comments will continue to display and work while we do this even if the layout looks different. Thanks for your interest and comments in the meantime.