April 18, 2013
The Huffington Post, 4/10/13
Those concerned about the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants who come to the United States from around the world may one day miss a time when the U.S. easily attracted workers from Mexico. As the baby-boom generation sails into retirement and the Mexican birth rate decreases, the U.S. will have a shortage of both skilled and unskilled labor, and will have to turn to other foreign countries to meet demand, policy analyst Shannon O’Neil writes in her new book Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico the United States, and the Road Ahead.
“This combination may lead to a rapid turnaround on this hot-button issue [immigration],” O’Neil writes. “Desperate to close the gaps in America’s workforce, in the next decade we may be urging Mexicans to come to the United States.”
March 18, 2013
With a bill introduced by the president and backed by all three political parties, Mexico is poised to take on a few of the country’s biggest monopolies and moguls. But for Mexico to truly engage in economic competition, it needs to do much more.
A lack of competition pervades the Mexican economy, as one or a few companies dominate sectors as diverse as glass, cement, flour, soft drinks, sugar, and tortilla flour, not to mention the state’s control of energy and electricity. This hits consumers’ bottom lines — an OECD study estimates that it increases the costs of basic goods for households by some 40%. It hurts Mexico’s working and middle classes the most, as they must spend a larger proportion of what they earn on these goods and services. It also hits the burgeoning manufacturing sector, which has to pay more for raw materials and basic inputs.
February 5, 2013
The Atlantic, 2/5/2013
Mexico City was once feared as being the most dangerous city in the planet. A new network of security cameras, and a focus on community police-work and patrols, have helped entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, and young professionals out of a decade of stalled urban renewal programs, and fostered the emergence of a vibrant nightlife. As street gangs have receded to fringe neighborhoods, crime has fallen, and many late night partiers have a different concern: the fear of being detained at the breathalyzer checkpoints.
Starting in 2000 with the election of leftist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as Mexico City’s mayor, the city began investing in a series of innovative social programs. Shannon O’Neil, a Mexico expert from the Council on Foreign Relations, explained that Marcelo Ebrard, who was mayor between 2006 and 2012, and his predecessor, Obrador, “went street by street in the Centro Historico and got rid of the ambulantes [unregistered street vendors]. It’s a variant of the broken windows theme.” Ebrard also told the police to focus on ticketing drivers who neglected to wear seatbelts. He installed security cameras throughout the city, and set up the alcoholímetro checkpoints to crack down on drunk driving.
August 24, 2011
Shannon K. O’Neill, Latin America’s Moment, Council on Foreign Relations blog, 8/24/11
The U.S. debates over Mexico’s drug war increasingly focus on spillover violence. Border state governors Rick Perry and Jan Brewer insist that Mexican cartels are hitting their states hard, portraying the border as a lawless “war zone” in which the drug cartels and illegal Mexicans incite “terror and mayhem” on a daily basis. In stark contrast, Customs and Border Protection (CPB) Commissioner Alan Bersin and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano contend that the border has never been safer.
The statistics bear out the latter position. A recent study based on FBI figures shows that violent crime in cities within 50 miles of the border is consistently lower than state and national averages. The robbery rate in the Texas border region, for example, remained at least 30 percent lower than the state average for every year in the past decade. The data also show that the number of kidnapping cases in border areas dropped by more than half since 2009. This doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen – they do. But they happen less frequently along the border, on average, than in other parts of the United States. Despite local politicians’ concerns and rhetoric, the border is more secure than in the past, and in fact safer than the rest of the country.
May 17, 2010
Shannon O’Neil, Americas Quarterly, Spring 2010
Open any Mexican newspaper today and the drug carnage is front and center. In the last three years, narco-related murders surpassed 18,000, nearly 8,000 of these occurred in 2009 alone. The macabre nature of the violence ratcheted up too, featuring heads rolling across an Acapulco disco floor, a “stewmaker” admitting to dissolving some 300 bodies in acid and a dead man’s face stitched onto a soccer ball. The drug cartels openly taunt the authorities and each other, hanging narcomantas, or banners, over major thoroughfares boasting about their latest kills and threatening future violence if not left alone. Both the number of the attacks and their brazenness—particularly in states such as Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Michoacánare—are unprecedented.
Yet crime-related violence in Mexico is not new. Mexico has always been a supplier of illegal markets in the United States, from alcohol in the prohibition era, heroin during World War II, marijuana throughout the 1960s, and in recent decades, a variety of drugs including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamines. As illicit businesses without access to formal contracts and courts, disputes and “mergers and acquisitions” have traditionally been settled with blood on the streets.
What has changed in recent decades is the scale of Mexico’s narcotics operations.
February 23, 2009
Council on Foreign Relations, 2/23/2009
I’ve been working with Mexico very — or watching it as closely as I could for perhaps 15 years. What has changed, I think, is Zedilo started them toward democracy. A thousand years from now Mexican kids are going to study Ernesto Zedilo. And Fox sort of moved the ball along, and now you’ve got this guy, Calderon, in there, with this tiny victory, political victory, and he said, one of the things I’m going to do is create a modern democratic state with the rule of law. I’m going to regain control of the streets. And he did that in the face of what are arguable four huge drug cartels, and he reached for the tools at hand and he confronted them, and it’s turned into a war.
January 21, 2009
PBS, World Focus, 1/21/2009
Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations appeared last night on PBS’s World Focus to discuss the Obama administration’s challenges and opportunities in Latin America. In the first half of the video, she discusses the need to end the hypocritical relationship the United States has with Mexico on drug trafficking. We give security aid to Mexican government forces through the Mérida Initiative, she said, but at the same time allow guns to be smuggled and money to be laundered to arm and fund the drug gangs.
January 13, 2009
Houston Chronicle, 1/13/2009
Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Tuesday in Washington that his government was open to reviewing the environmental and labor provisions of the 15-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. “We have always been willing to revise aspects” of the treaty, Calderon told President George W. Bush during a White House meeting.
President-elect Barack Obama said after a Monday meeting with Calderon that he wanted to “upgrade” the accord, popularly known as NAFTA. During last year’s Democratic presidential primaries, Obama threatened to scuttle the treaty if he could not win environmental and labor concessions from Mexico and Canada.
“The idea of throwing these relations into turmoil is not what the Obama administration wants,” said Shannon O’Neil, a Mexico analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. But “NAFTA was forged 15 years ago, and lots of new issues have come up.”