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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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 »

Security Cooperation in Mexico

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Shannon O'Neil Hearing - LAM

I was in Washington D.C. this past Tuesday to give testimony on U.S.-Mexico security cooperation at a Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs’ hearing. You can read my written testimony here or watch the full hearing video here—which also includes insightful perspectives from Nik Steinberg, Senior Researcher in the Americas Division at Human Rights Watch, and Duncan Wood, the Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. As well as government officials, Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and Mark Feierstein, Assistant Administrator for Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean. 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 »

The Presidential Inbox: Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil

As part of the Council on Foreign Relations’, “Presidential Inbox” series, I sat down yesterday with Arturo Valenzuela, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Sergio Galvis, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, to talk about the issues that Obama will face in his foreign policy toward Latin America. You can watch the event here or below. Read more »

Diverging Inequality in Latin America and the United States

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Overview of the shantytown known as Villa 31, home of some 20,000 poor Argentines and immigrants from neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia, is separated by train tracks and a road from the city's richest neigborhood, Recoleta, in the center of Buenos Aires, October 19 (Enrique Marcarian / Courtesy Reuters). Overview of the shantytown known as Villa 31, home to some 20,000 poor Argentinians and immigrants from neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia. It is separated by train tracks and a road from the city's richest neighborhood, Recoleta, in the center of Buenos Aires, October 19 (Enrique Marcarian/Courtesy Reuters).

Most everyone agrees that inequality matters. Studies by the World Bank, the IMF, and by academics (such as Richard Wilkinson of the University of Nottingham) demonstrate how harmful inequality can be, affecting a whole host of factors, ranging from economic growth rates to teenage pregnancy rates and crime. Read more »

Managing Illegal Immigration to the United States

by Shannon K. O'Neil
U.S. Border Patrol surveys the border fence near rancher John Ladd's property adjacent to the Arizona-Mexico border near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013. U.S. Border Patrol surveys the border fence near rancher John Ladd's property adjacent to the Arizona-Mexico border near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013 (Samantha Sais/Courtesy Reuters).

As Senate immigration negotiations continue, the Council on Foreign Relations has just released a report on the effectiveness of U.S. immigration enforcement. The authors, Bryan Roberts (a senior economist at Econometrica, Inc), John Whitely (an economist focusing on resource allocation), and my colleague Edward Alden, detail the dramatic surge in border security “inputs”—personnel and money—outlining the sharp increases in the number of border patrol agents and the amount of their budgets. But the report highlights the lack of government data on “outputs” (i.e., the results of each program) and “outcomes” (how successful or unsuccessful each policy was in reducing illegal immigration). Read more »