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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Latin America Goes Global Launch

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Latin America Goes Global, Christopher Sabatini Heads of states pose for the family photo of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 11, 2015 (Edgar Garrido/Courtesy Reuters).

Today is the official launch of Latin America Goes Global. Led by Christopher Sabatini, adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and formerly editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, the new site already has many talented and thoughtful Latin American policy experts on board. Read more »

CFR Media Call: Summit of the Americas

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Summit of the Americas, Panama, Panama City, Cuba Cuba's President Raul Castro listens during the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in San Antonio de Belen in the province of Heredia January 28, 2015, in this handout courtesy of the Costa Rica Presidency (Costa Rica Presidency/Courtesy Reuters).

The seventh Summit of the Americas begins today in Panama City, Panama. Taking place every three years, it brings together leaders throughout the Western Hemisphere. This summit’s central theme is “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas,” addressing issues including education, health, energy, the environment, migration, security, citizen participation, and democratic governance. This is also the first summit Cuba attends. Yesterday, I participated in a CFR media call presided by Justin Vogt, deputy managing editor of Foreign Affairs, offering a preview of the summit. You can listen to the call here.

Latin America’s Middle-Income Trap

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Latin America, Middle-income trap A student writes down in her note book on the first day of school in Managua February 11, 2013. Around 1.6 million students are expected to start their new academic year, according to the Ministry of Education of Nicaragua (Oswaldo Rivas/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2014, GDP growth in the region slowed to less than 1 percent. Expectations for 2015 are just slightly better, with forecasters predicting growth of nearer to 2 percent. The downturn reflects external factors, including the European Union’s continuing problems, a slower China, and falling commodity prices. But it also results from domestic barriers that hold these nations back. Read more »

The Strategic Importance of North America to U.S. Interests

by Shannon K. O'Neil
North America, Western Hemisphere, House Foreign Affairs, energy, economic competitiveness, integration (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Yesterday, I had the privilege to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere at a hearing titled “The Strategic Importance of the Western Hemisphere: Defining U.S. Interests in the Region.” Also joining me before the subcommittee were Bonnie Glick, senior vice president at Meridian International Center, Evan Ellis, research professor at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, and Eric Farnsworth, vice president of Council of the Americas. Read more »

Guest Post: Latin America, Energy Matrices, and the Future of Climate Change

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Latin America, Energy Matrices, Climate Change A Petrobras Oil platform is seen at Guabanara bay in Rio de Janeiro September 24, 2010. Brazilian state oil company Petrobras raised $70 billion on Thursday in the world's biggest share offering, giving the company the financial muscle it needs to tap vast offshore oil reserves (Bruno Domingos/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Matthew Michaelides, an intern here at the Council on Foreign Relations who works with me in the Latin America program.

This week world leaders meet in Lima, Peru to discuss the framework for a new UN climate change agreement. The big issues for discussion include financing clean energy projects and implementing cap-and-trade policies, building on the release of a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a landmark climate change accord between the United States and China. Read more »

South-South Trade and Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
South-south trade, developing south trade, inter-industry trade, Latin America, exports, intermediary goods Workers harvest soy in a farm during a demonstration of harvest machines in Correntina, Bahia March 31, 2010. Brazil's 2009/10 soybean production is estimated to be 67.5 million tonnes (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

The economic rise of the developing south is one of the biggest trends of the last decade, accelerated by the 2008 global economic downturn. Since 2001 trade between these countries has grown 18 percent a year on average, outpacing global trade growth of 11 percent. Nearly half of all exports worldwide now originate in emerging markets—predominantly Asia. Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America Holds Steady in 2013

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Robots weld cars at the Ford Motor Company's Sao Bernardo do Campo facility in Sao Bernardo do Campo, June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters). Robots weld cars at the Ford Motor Company's Sao Bernardo do Campo facility in Sao Bernardo do Campo, June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2013, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America reached $185 billion according to the latest ECLAC report, continuing the slight upward trend of the last three years. Brazil maintained its number one position as the largest FDI destination, raking in $64 billion (over one third of all regional FDI). Mexico came in second, with some $38 billion (boosted by the $13 billion purchase of the rest of Modelo by Belgian based Anheuser-Busch InBev, a company run by Brazilians). Mexico’s Pacific Alliance partners—Chile, Colombia, Peru—also had a fruitful year, with a combined $47 billion in investment. And despite its economic woes, Argentina garnered $9 billion. Read more »

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 »

Guest Post: U.S. Students are Heading to Latin America, Just Not to Mexico

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
A boy walks past a mural depicting a child shooting an RPG loaded with school supplies in Ciudad Juarez February 10, 2012 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). A boy walks past a mural depicting a child shooting an RPG loaded with school supplies in Ciudad Juarez February 10, 2012 (Stringer/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 Studies program.

Secretary John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden recently announced the new State Department directed 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. It ambitiously aims to have 100,000 U.S. students in Latin America and 100,000 Latin American students in the United States by 2020. This initiative builds on the increasing interest in the region; during the 2011-2012 school year over 44,000 U.S. students headed south. Still these growing numbers hide the changing geographic interests, including the increasing popularity of Brazil and Costa Rica and the steep declines in semesters abroad in Mexico. Read more »

How Latin America Fares in the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Legatum Prosperity Index Legatum Prosperity Index

The Legatum Institute, a London-based policy organization, just published its annual Prosperity Index. Using eighty-nine indicators across eight indices—economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital—it moves beyond more standard macroeconomic country rankings to take into account income and social well-being. Questions range from if citizens have “helped a stranger in the past month” to a nation’s “incidence of tuberculosis.” With the scores tallied up, here is a look at where Latin America’s prosperity by their measures stands. Read more »