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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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.

Advanced Industries and North America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
advanced industries, innovation, R&D, stem, economic competitiveness A view of employees working at the General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri February 7, 2012. When the U.S. automaker wanted to assign the launch of the next version of their full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs, they turned to one of the toughest executives in its ranks. The 5-foot-2 Diana Tremblay, GM's global manufacturing chief, is one of the highest ranking women in the automotive industry and has upended expectations her entire 35-year career, from directing workers in GM's foundries to staring down union labor negotiator (Sarah Conard/Courtesy Reuters).

The U.S. economic recovery and current strength reflect in large part advanced industries. As other sectors faltered, both employment and output in these businesses grew. In 2013, they employed 12.3 million workers (9 percent of the U.S. workforce), who made on average $90,000 (compared to the U.S. mean of $51,500). These industries generated $2.7 trillion in output (17 percent of U.S. GDP), and indirectly supported an additional 14.3 million jobs. 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 »

Interview With Charlie Rose

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Charlie Rose, Shannon O'Neil, Enrique Peña Nieto, US-Mexico relations (Courtesy Charlie Rose)

Last month, I had the pleasure of joining Charlie Rose on his show along with Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, and Francisco Goldman, contributor to The New Yorker, to discuss Mexican President Peña Nieto’s meeting with President Obama last month and US-Mexico relations more broadly. Recently aired, you can watch the interview here.

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 »

United States and Mexico Finally Resolve Cross-Border Trucking Issue

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Mexican trucking, Mexican carriers, NAFTA, pilot program California Air Resources field representative Valente Armenta works a checkpoint set up to inspect heavy-duty trucks traveling near the Mexican-U.S. border in Otay Mesa, California September 10, 2013. California Highway Patrol and the Air Resources Board were inspecting trucks for compliance to California's air pollution laws (Mike Blake/Courtesy Reuters).

For the twenty years since the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the United States failed to fulfill its treaty obligations to open its roads and permit safe cross-border services. As part of the original agreement, Mexican trucks were supposed to be able to operate in four U.S. states—Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona—by December 1995, and then throughout the continental United States by January 1, 2000. Almost fifteen years later, the vast majority of Mexican trucks are still not allowed on U.S. roads. Mexico retaliated in kind, blocking the movement of U.S. trucks within its borders. In 2009, Mexico also applied retaliatory tariffs on a yearly rotating basis to a variety of U.S. imports, permitted by a favorable 2001 NAFTA dispute settlement panel ruling. Read more »

Panama Twenty-Five Years Later

by Shannon K. O'Neil
U.S. Invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause U.S. troops take up positions outside the external relations ministry during the invasion of Panama on December 22, 1989 (Roberto Armocida/Courtesy Reuters).

December 20 marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Just Cause, better remembered as the U.S. invasion of Panama. Set off by the death of an off-duty Marine lieutenant by Panamanian security forces, the invasion represented the final step in a deteriorating relationship between the United States and Manuel Noriega—once a CIA informant and close ally, later a defiant dictator, undone by the winding down of the Cold War and his own brazen corruption. The lopsided confrontation ended by early January of 1990, when Noriega surrendered to U.S. authorities. He was then extradited, tried, convicted, and eventually sentenced to twenty years in U.S. federal prison for drug-trafficking, racketeering, and money-laundering. Read more »

Spillovers From Falling Oil Prices: Risks to Mexico and the United States

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Mexico, Pemex, Oil prices Refinery workers walk at one of the facility's catalytic plants, used to convert heavy hydrocarbon crude oil fractions into lighter gasoline and diesel in Tula November 21, 2013. Mexico's oil refining industry, saddled for years with bloated costs, chronic underinvestment and generous government fuel subsidies, ought to be on the verge of a bright new dawn. A shake-up last month dismantled the state-run Pemex oil and gas monopoly, ending decades of stubborn self-reliance and potentially opening the door to foreign oil companies (Henry Romero/Courtesy Reuters).

Geopolitically, U.S. policymakers generally see high oil prices as bad and low oil prices as good for national interests. In a CFR Working Paper I coauthored with Michael Levi and Alexandra Mahler-Haug we find a sustained drop in oil prices will affect at least one of the United States’ closest trading partners and geopolitical allies negatively: Mexico. 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 »

North America by the Numbers

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Oil Pipelines Pipelines carrying steam to wellheads and heavy oil back to the processing plant line the roads and boreal forest at the Cenovus Energy Christina Lake Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) project 120 km (74 miles) south of Fort McMurray, Alberta, August 15, 2013. Cenovus currently produces 100,000 barrels of heavy oil per day at their Christina Lake tar sands project (Todd Korol/Courtesy Reuters).

How much do Canada and Mexico matter for the United States? Here are a few snapshots illustrating the importance of our combined global heft and influence.

  • North American countries are joined by 7,500 miles of land borders, among the longest in the world.
  • Though comprising less than 7 percent of the world’s population, Canada, Mexico and the United States produce nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP—some 20 trillion dollars.
  • Read more »