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"

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 »

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.