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"

Venezuela’s Election and the Future of Chavismo

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A woman walks past a mural depicting Venezuela's acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (R) and Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas April 12, 2013 (Tomas Bravo/Courtesy Reuters). A woman walks past a mural depicting Venezuela's acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (R) and Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas April 12, 2013 (Tomas Bravo/Courtesy Reuters).

On Sunday some fifteen million Venezuelans headed to the polls to choose between Nicolás Maduro (Chávez’s heir apparent) and Henrique Capriles (the opposition’s leader). In an election many expected to be a sweep for Maduro, official tallies showed Capriles falling short by less than 300,000 votes (1.6 percent of the total). Though it now seems unlikely that an electoral apparatus firmly in the hands of Chavistas will allow a recount or overturn the results, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Venezuela’s democracy. And having Maduro at the helm in the coming months and years should complicate the legacy of Chavismo, helping Venezuela’s opposition in the medium to long term. Read more »

New Era for U.S.-Venezuela Relations?

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro (C) greets supporters next to his wife Cilia Flores (R) during a parade to commemorate the 21st anniversary of President Hugo Chavez's attempted coup d'etat in Caracas (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Courtesy Reuters). Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro (C) greets supporters next to his wife Cilia Flores (R) during a parade to commemorate the 21st anniversary of President Hugo Chavez's attempted coup d'etat in Caracas (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Courtesy Reuters).

Much of the discussion surrounding Chavez’s passing has focused on what his absence will mean for Venezuela’s internal politics, but below is my take for the BBC on how it may affect U.S.-Venezuela relations. You can also read the article here. Read more »

Chávez Loses Battle to Cancer

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez waves to supporters during his arrival at Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters) Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez waves to supporters during his arrival at Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters)

After fourteen years in power, Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced this evening that President Hugo Chávez had lost his long and secretive battle with cancer. Chávez’s legacy will surely be mixed, as he leaves a divided political class and precarious economic situation, but his policies and Chavismo will likely live on. I spoke tonight with Marcus Mabry from the New York Times about what his death could mean for Venezuela, Latin America, and the United States—you can watch the video here.

What to Watch in 2013: Latin America’s Presidential Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Nicaraguan police carry ballot boxes, which will be used for the upcoming presidential election, in Managua Nicaraguan police carry ballot boxes, which will be used for the upcoming presidential election, in Managua (Oswaldo Rivas/Courtesy Reuters).

Last year Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic held presidential elections, leading to some of the region’s biggest news stories of the year: the PRI’s return to power and the strong second place showing from Venezuela’s opposition. With four scheduled presidential elections (and a possible fifth) in 2013, along with congressional and municipal elections in Argentina and Venezuela respectively, here is what you should be watching. Read more »

Election Day Roundup

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People wait to vote at Good Shepherd Methodist Church during the U.S. presidential election in Kissimmee, Florida People wait to vote at Good Shepherd Methodist Church during the U.S. presidential election in Kissimmee, Florida (Scott Miller/Courtesy Reuters).

As Americans vote today, a record 23 million Latinos can head to the polls. Here is a roundup of the candidates’ stated views on immigration, regional security, and trade with Latin America—issues that are often of direct interest for this growing voter bloc, but also will more generally affect all Americans over the next four years. Read more »

Evolution of Latin America’s Economies

by Shannon K. O'Neil

I’ve been looking recently at the structural changes in many of Latin America’s economies (through the evolution of their exports). The different trajectories are quite striking, as you can see in the graphs below.

Out of Latin America’s biggest economies, Mexico has transformed the most. In the 1980s the manufacturing sector comprised just 10 percent of total exports; today it is over 75 percent. Mexico’s economic diversification and dynamism, especially in the automotive and electronic industries, have held oil at a steady 10-15 percent of exports for the last twenty years, even as oil prices have risen (though, in fairness, production has also declined). Read more »

Venezuelan Election Roundup

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves the national flag while celebrating from a balcony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas (Jorge Silva/Courtesy Reuters). Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves the national flag while celebrating from a balcony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas (Jorge Silva/Courtesy Reuters).

On Sunday Hugo Chávez won his third presidential term. With 55 percent of the total vote, he bested opponent Henrique Capriles by almost 11 percent. With the dust now settling and celebrations or mourning (depending on your politics) coming to an end, here is a roundup of insights into how and why Chávez defeated Capriles, and what this might mean for the next six years. 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 »

Venezuela’s Potentially Violent Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez shakes hands with opposition governor from the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, during a ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez shakes hands with opposition governor from the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, during a ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas (Courtesy Reuters).

Elections are always times of uneasiness, but the upcoming October 7th presidential elections in Venezuela have more than the normal share of uncertainty. There are concerns over President Chavez’s health and whether he will be able to fulfill a third six-year term. There are serious worries over the fairness of the election given the concentration of pro-Chavez media attention, the use of public resources for influencing voters (and for decorating public buildings), and the closing of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami (the home of a strong opposition voting bloc). Finally, there are worries that even if the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, is successful at the ballot box, the current government may not recognize the results. Read more »

The GOP Platform on Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A convention goer wears a button during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa A convention goer wears a button during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters).

With the Tampa Bay Republican Convention underway, the Republican Party platform, in its entirety, has finally found its way onto the internet. The fifty-plus page document touches briefly on all of the hottest election year topics, addressing everything from traditional marriage to Medicare to foreign policy. In regards to Latin America, the Republican Party platform focuses almost exclusively on the two states toward which the GOP has the greatest antipathy: Venezuela and Cuba. Read more »