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 "Venezuela"

Macri’s Surprising Honeymoon

by Matthew Taylor
Mauricio Macri, Argentina, Cambiemos, pragmatic Argentina's President Mauricio Macri (L) and Jujuy's Province governor Gerardo Morales (back C) dance as they take part in a carnival celebration in the Argentine northern town of Purmamarca, February 6, 2016 (Argentine Presidency/Reuters).

By all accounts, Mauricio Macri has had a remarkable honeymoon since he was inaugurated December 10, quickly moving to revise Argentina’s economic policies, restructure its relations with the world, and tackle a variety of rule of law challenges, ranging from corruption to the drug trade. President Obama’s trip to Argentina last week was in many ways the capstone to Macri’s dynamic first hundred days in office. The visit signaled a generational shift in U.S. policy toward Latin America, seeking to repair some of the worst damage done by U.S. support of the military dictatorship that took office when Obama was a teenager, but Obama and his entourage of more than four hundred business representatives were even more convincing in their strong praise for the Macri administration’s new openness to foreign investors. Read more »

Opportunities for U.S. Engagement in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Latin America, Pacific Alliance, Colombia's peace negotiations, Luis Almagro, Cuba, Mexico's judicial reforms, anticorruption, Global Magnitsky Act, rule of law, North America, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Central America Regional Security Initiative, International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Alliance for Prosperity (Courtesy U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations)

Last week, I had the privilege of testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at a hearing titled “Political and Economic Developments in Latin America and Opportunities for U.S. Engagement.” Also joining me before the committee were Thomas McLarty, chairman of McLarty Associates, and Eric Farnsworth, vice president of Americas Society and Council of the Americas. Read more »

South America’s Shifting Diplomatic Landscape

by Matthew Taylor
rapprochement, Cuba, U.S.-Brazil relations, Dilma Rousseff, Colombia peace talks, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, commodities boom, Mauricio Macri, Mercosur, Mauro Vieira, Susana Malcorra, pink tide countries, Democratic Unity Roundtable, Organization of American States, National Assembly, Nicolas Maduro, Unasur, BNDES, Banco do Brasil, Brazil-China Fund, Trans-Pacific Partnership, BRICS, Chinese meltdown Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra (L) and Brazil's Foreign Minister Mauro Viera speak before the Summit of Heads of State of MERCOSUR and Associated States and 49th Meeting of the Common Market Council in Luque, Paraguay, December 20, 2015 (Jorge Adorno/Reuters).

The past year has altered Latin America’s diplomatic panorama. Among the most significant changes were a U.S. policy turnaround that included U.S. rapprochement with Cuba, a reset in U.S.-Brazil relations cemented during President Dilma Rousseff’s June state visit to Washington, DC, and greater U.S. participation in the Colombian peace talks. In addition to these carefully strategized advances, a variety of far more contingent factors is converging in ways that are likely to shake up established regional alignments within South America. As the region prepares for the fourth Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit at the end of January, the rightward shift of domestic politics in the region, the woeful state of Brazil’s Rousseff government, and the Pacific turn in trade negotiations are combining in ways that may create a new set of opportunities for regional relations, and will certainly jumble the status quo. Read more »

A Conversation With Mark Jones and Kellie Meiman Hock

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Argentina, President Mauricio Macri Argentina's President Mauricio Macri holds the symbolic leader's staff next to Vice-President Gabriela Michetti (L) and Senate provisional president Federico Pinedo (R) at Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 10, 2015 (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters).

This post features Mark P. Jones, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’s political science fellow and Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin America Studies at Rice University, and Kellie Meiman Hock, managing partner and director of the Brazil and Southern Cone and trade practices at McLarty Associates. Latin America’s Moment recently sat down with Jones and Meiman Hock to discuss Argentina’s outlook. Read more »

Latin America’s Middle Class

by Shannon K. O'Neil
middle class, commodity boom, conditional cash transfers, private consumption A woman looks at washing machines in an electrical appliances store in Buenos Aires, Argentina June 22, 2015. On top of that came one of the biggest crises of President Cristina Fernandez de Kircher's presidency at the start of this year when a state prosecutor who accused her of criminal behavior was found dead. Yet voters' memories are short, say political analysts, and the success of the government's unorthodox measures to stabilize the economy and boost consumption is giving it a lift in popularity (Agustin Marcarian/Reuters).

The first decade of the 21st century was a good one for Latin America. A recent Pew Research Center report estimates that some 63 million individuals entered the middle class, measured as earning between ten and twenty dollars a day. Add in the 36 million more members of the upper-middle class, and 47 percent of those in South America—a near majority—are no longer poor. Mexico brought over 10 million people into its middle ranks during the decade, raising the combined share of the middle and upper classes to roughly 38 percent of the population. Read more »

China’s RMB Swap Lines with Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
China, Argentina, swap lines Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands and face the media after signing documents during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing February 4, 2015 (Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters).

My colleagues Benn Steil and Dinah Walker recently published a great interactive on the spread of central bank currency swaps since the financial crisis. They find the United States provided developing nations with significant support through swap lines at the height of the financial crisis, but that China has been the most active extender of swap lines since 2009. China now has thirty-one swap agreements outstanding. Read more »

Elections to Watch in 2015

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Latin America Elections 2015 Argentina's current president and presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner listens to Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli (L) during a visit to the Luchetti noodle factory in Buenos Aires, October 20, 2011. Argentine President Fernandez looks set to win easy re-election on Sunday after a dramatic comeback that has confounded critics of her unconventional economic policies and combative style. A center-leftist who has given the state a leading role in the economy, Fernandez has rebounded from low approval ratings and angry protests by farmers and middle-class voters that erupted early in her first term. Polls show she could win more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday (Martin Acosta/Courtesy Reuters).

The region will hold just two presidential elections this year, choosing new leaders in Guatemala and Argentina. More prevalent will be congressional and local elections. Midterms in Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia in particular may prove bellwethers for the direction of these three important regional economies. 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 »

Guest Post: Maduro’s Limited Foreign Policy Agenda

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) meets Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro (L) in Tehran October 5, 2008. (Raheb Homavandi/Courtesy Reuters). Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) meets Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro (L) in Tehran October 5, 2008. (Raheb Homavandi/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.

In recent years, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has played a leading role in crafting some of his country’s best known foreign policy and regional integration initiatives. Serving as Hugo Chávez’s foreign minister from 2006 to 2012, Maduro made a name for himself in the foreign policy world through his more radical policy (toward states such as Syria, Iran, and Libya) and at times, more pragmatic approach (especially toward Colombia). But in his role as president, Maduro’s foreign policy agenda has diminished, and will likely stay that way as long as his capacity to project abroad is limited by the turmoil at home. Read more »

Venezuela’s Economy and Future

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Women wait in line as they buy toilet paper at a supermarket in Caracas May 17, 2013 (Jorge Silva/Courtesy Reuters). Women wait in line as they buy toilet paper at a supermarket in Caracas May 17, 2013 (Jorge Silva/Courtesy Reuters).

Many Venezuela watchers have been waiting for the other proverbial economic shoe to drop (see here, here, and here), and for the country to fall into serious crisis. Others, such as Mark Weisbrot co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, question this premise, arguing in his Guardian column that Venezuela has and will continue to make progress using its own economic model. So where does the nation stand? Read more »