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 "Guatemala"

Taking on Corruption in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
President Perez Molina, corruption, anti-corruption, influence peddling, embezzlement, CICIG Guatemala's former President Otto Perez Molina gestures while being escorted by police officers after a hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City, September 3, 2015. Perez resigned his presidency and turned himself in to a court on Thursday to face charges in a corruption scandal that gutted his government and plunged the country into chaos days before a presidential election. Congress, in an emergency session, approved the resignation of Perez, a 64-year-old retired general who quit overnight. Vice President Alejandro Maldonado will fill out the remaining months of Perez' term (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters).

2015 is shaping up to be the anti-corruption year for Latin America. After resigning last week in the face of a growing corruption scandal, Guatemalan President Pérez Molina now faces trial and potentially jail. Investigations into government corruption have disrupted politics as usual in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, while scandals continue to unfold in Argentina and Panama. Read more »

Central America’s Unaccompanied Minors

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Central America, Unaccompanied Minors, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador Women and their children wait in line to register at the Honduran Center for Returned Migrants after being deported from Mexico, in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras June 20, 2014. Thousands of young people are hoping to reach the U.S. from their impoverished and violent homes in Central America. In the eight months ended June 15, the U.S. has detained about 52,000 children at the Mexican border, double the figure the year earlier. There is no telling how many have gotten through (Jorge Cabrera/Courtesy Reuters).

During the summer of 2014 tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors surged across the U.S-Mexico border. Over the course of the fiscal year, nearly 70,000—mostly from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—endured brutal and at times even deadly conditions as they made their way to the United States. While most of these children were between the ages of 13 and 17, the fastest growing group was 6 to 12 years old. Of the many factors that influenced their individual decisions, four stand out. Read more »

Glimpses of Optimism in Guatemala

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Guatemala, Optimism, Asociacion Puente, Wakami, MILKnCOOKIES,, CICIG (Courtesy Shannon O'Neil)

The news and statistics from Guatemala are anything but reassuring. More than half the nation’s sixteen million citizens live in poverty. Worse, almost one in two children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, which affects not just their immediate well-being but also limits their physical and intellectual potential for the rest of their lives. Read more »

Elections to Watch in 2015

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Latin America Elections 2015 Argentina's current president and presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner listens to Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli (L) during a visit to the Luchetti noodle factory in Buenos Aires, October 20, 2011. Argentine President Fernandez looks set to win easy re-election on Sunday after a dramatic comeback that has confounded critics of her unconventional economic policies and combative style. A center-leftist who has given the state a leading role in the economy, Fernandez has rebounded from low approval ratings and angry protests by farmers and middle-class voters that erupted early in her first term. Polls show she could win more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday (Martin Acosta/Courtesy Reuters).

The region will hold just two presidential elections this year, choosing new leaders in Guatemala and Argentina. More prevalent will be congressional and local elections. Midterms in Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia in particular may prove bellwethers for the direction of these three important regional economies. 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).

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 »

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).

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 »

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 »

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).

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 »

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 »

Central America’s Moment

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A gang member flashes a gang sign as police parade suspected gang members they arrested in an overnight raid in San Salvador A gang member flashes a gang sign as police parade suspected gang members they arrested in an overnight raid in San Salvador (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

While Brazil and Mexico (in good and bad ways) tend to fill U.S. headlines regarding Latin America, other nations matter as well for the United States. Among them are the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Though combined their populations total less than thirty million people, these small nations arguably have an outsized effect on the United States, due to a long history of migration and a now growing role in the hemispheric drug pipeline. Read more »