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 "Panama"

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 »

Visiting the Panama Canal

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Panama Canal Panama Canal

Last week I was in Panama, and had the good fortune of visiting the Canal. In its Centennial year, it is a truly impressive feat of engineering, some forty-eight miles long, rising and falling some eighty-five vertical feet (roughly eight stories) overall through three lock systems and six different chambers. Its storied construction is captured eloquently in David McCullough’s The Path Between the Seas—a great read for those interested in this piece of history. Read more »

Latin America Becomes More Competitive

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazilian children Alexandre da Costa (L) and Augusto Ribeiro use a computer at Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). Brazilian children Alexandre da Costa (L) and Augusto Ribeiro use a computer at Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

The Global Competitiveness Index for 2012-2013 came out this month, ranking 144 countries from around the world on twelve “pillars of competitiveness” (ranging from “basic requirements” such as institutions and infrastructure to more advanced categories such as innovation and business sophistication). In its rankings, Latin America’s countries fell pretty much right in the list’s center, with three countries (Chile, Panama, and Brazil) ranking in the top third, six countries falling in the bottom third (El Salvador, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela), and the rest spread throughout the middle. Read more »

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’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 »

Reads of the Week: Debating COIN in Mexico and Dealing with Violence in Central America

by Shannon K. O'Neil

At least 27 people were found dead in the Guatemalan village near the border with Mexico last May. Police look at a message written with a victim's blood, which reads: ‘What’s up, Otto Salguero, you bastard? We are going to find you and behead you, too. Sincerely, Z200.’ (Courtesy Reuters).

Read more »