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"

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 »

Guest Post: Correa is No Chávez

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Ecuador's President Correa and Venezuela's President Chavez sing national anthem during a ceremony in Caracas Ecuador's President Correa and Venezuela's President Chavez sing national anthem during a ceremony in Caracas (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/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.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has been in full campaign mode: speaking, singing, and exhorting the dangers of his opponent, Henrique Capríles Radonski. Despite his visible public activities, rumors and speculation continue to swirl, with attention focused on his health far more than on his policies. The prospect of a Venezuela without Chávez, and more broadly the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, or ALBA, and its regional initiatives, has led many to speculate who would or could fill the void. In the regional arena, Ecuador’s mercurial president Rafael Correa stands as a top contender. Read more »

Latin America: Trading and Investing Together

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras (Eliana Aponte/Courtesy Reuters).

Economic ties lead Latin America’s integration efforts. Promising some of the greatest concrete benefits—larger markets, improved livelihoods, and enhanced global economic power—leaders and communities alike have tried to integrate the region through three main means: trade, infrastructure, and investment. Read more »

Latin American Integration: Two Hundred Years of Efforts

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man walks past a banner reading 'Capital of integration' in Caracas A man walks past a banner reading 'Capital of integration' in Caracas (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Latin American integration efforts have been a continuous fixture throughout much of the last century, but in recent years there has been a flurry of new initiatives, with leaders re-emphasizing regional ties. The increasing number of high-profile presidential and ministerial summits have brought renewed promises and commitments to deepen regional political, economic, social, and developmental cooperation, and have spurred the creation of new political and economic bodies tasked with uniting the region. Read more »

Violence and Insecurity in Latin America: New Survey Findings

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People in a local bus service travel past a crime scene, where three men were shot dead, in Monterrey (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). People in a local bus service travel past a crime scene, where three men were shot dead, in Monterrey (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Though specific countries usually capture the headlines for their bloodiness—Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and often Colombia—security problems are widespread throughout Latin America. For the region which holds the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most violent, a new Latinobarómetro report looks at the recent trends, and through survey data,  tries to tease out how this affects perceptions, people, and, more broadly, democracy. Read more »

Latin America’s Economic Outlook

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Source: The 2012 IMF Economic Outlook Report for the Western Hemisphere Source: The 2012 IMF Economic Outlook Report for the Western Hemisphere

The recent IMF economic outlook report entitled, “The Western Hemisphere: Rebuilding Strength and Flexibility,” is overall quite bullish on the region. Fueled by favorable commodity prices and plentiful international credit, it lauds (as much as the IMF does) the steady growth of the past decade. Perhaps as important for the IMF, many Latin American governments have used rising revenues in economically sound ways. The region as a whole has turned deficits to surpluses, and lowered debt to GDP levels by some 15 percent. Many countries invested in targeted social programs, helping reduce regional poverty levels from 44 percent in 2002 to 33 percent in 2008. Read more »

Guest Post: Colombia’s Displaced

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Group of internally displaced Colombians protest at the entrance of AG headquarters in Bogota (Jose Gomez/Courtesy Reuters). Group of internally displaced Colombians protest at the entrance of AG headquarters in Bogota (Jose Gomez/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.

The best known Colombian security story is that of declining violence. Indeed its homicide rate dropped from near 80 homicides per 100,000 in 1990 to 32 per 100,000 in 2010 lower than its eastern neighbor Venezuela, or the notoriously violent Central American countries to the north. In fact, Colombian police now share best practices and security advice with their Honduran and El Salvadoran counterparts, and are training twelve thousand Mexican officers. Read more »

Why the Summit of the Americas Matters

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Colombian policemen stand in front of the Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena Colombian policemen stand in front of the Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena (Jose Gomez/Courtesy Reuters).

The sixth Summit of the Americas on April 14-15 is part of an intense spring of bilateral and regional interactions in the hemisphere. It will bring together thirty-three heads of state from nearly every member of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cartegena, Colombia, to discuss regional issues ranging from expanding economic ties to turning back a surge in criminal activity. Read more »