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 "Latin America"

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 »

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 »

Review of Smuggler Nation

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Oxford University Press, 2013. Oxford University Press, 2013.

In Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America (Oxford University Press, 2013), Peter Andreas, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, illuminates the long history of U.S. smuggling. From inciting the Revolutionary War (and later helping George Washington and his troops gain the advantage) to jump starting America’s Industrial Revolution through stolen technology and human know-how, from later perpetuating the slave trade and the Civil War, to more recently providing workers for U.S. farms and service jobs (all the while catering to America’s vices), smuggling has been part of the breadth of U.S. history. Read more »

A Strategy to Reduce Gun Trafficking and Violence in the Americas

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A pink assault rifle hangs among others at an exhibit booth at the George R. Brown convention center, the site for the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Houston, Texas May 5, 2013 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy Reuters). A pink assault rifle hangs among others at an exhibit booth at the George R. Brown convention center, the site for the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Houston, Texas May 5, 2013 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy Reuters).

My CFR colleague Julia Sweig just published a policy innovation memorandum outlining “A Strategy to Reduce Gun Trafficking and Violence in the Americas,” where she argues that lax U.S. gun laws contribute to Latin America’s high rates of gun-related homicide and violence. The recommendations take domestic political challenges into consideration and offer a path for the Obama administration—in line with the Second Amendment—to both diminish the flow of guns and ammo to the south and to enhance the United States’ diplomatic standing in the region. Read more »

What’s Happening in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil

Ably led by Marty Moss-Coane, host of Philadelphia’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and I had a great conversation about Latin America yesterday. It ranged far and wide, from the protests in Brazil to the peace talks in Colombia, the violence in Mexico and Central America to the successes and challenges for democratic governance. You can listen here.

Latin America’s Secret Success Story

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Aviation technicians prepare a prototype of the new Embraer Phenom 100 executive jet at Embraer's factory in Gaviao Peixoto, 270 kms (168 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo, January 18, 2008 (Ricky Rogers/Courtesy Reuters). Aviation technicians prepare a prototype of the new Embraer Phenom 100 executive jet at Embraer's factory in Gaviao Peixoto, 270 kms (168 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo, January 18, 2008 (Ricky Rogers/Courtesy Reuters).

For the start of the Biennial of the Americas conference, I wrote an article for the Daily Beast on why Latin America is steadily growing in global importance. You can read the piece here or below. Read more »

Inside the 2012 Latino Electorate

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Placards and campaign stickers sit on a table at the Latino regional headquarters for the Obama campaign during election day of the U.S. presidential election in Milwaukee, Wisconsin November 6, 2012. Placards and campaign stickers sit on a table at the Latino regional headquarters for the Obama campaign during election day of the U.S. presidential election in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 6, 2012 (Sara Stathas/Courtesy Reuters).

During the weeks surrounding the 2012 presidential election, many analysts and observers, including myself, wrote about the Latino electorate’s arrival onto the political scene. A record breaking 11.2 million Hispanics voted and their concentration in swing states including Colorado, Nevada, and Florida, pushed Obama to victory. A new Pew Hispanic report, however, shows that this demographic still lagged its electoral potential last November. Despite the surge in absolute numbers, less than half (48 percent) of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared to 66.6 percent of blacks and 64.1 percent of whites. Read more »