Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies
Latin America, Mexico, Brazil; policy reform; security; trade; energy; immigration.
Mexico is one of the United States' most important foreign policy relationships. No other nation directly affects U.S. stability, security, and prosperity across so many dimensions. Mexico increasingly influences (and is influenced by) U.S. domestic policy--no other country is as intertwined with the U.S. economy, environment, culture, and society. Although bilateral relations have always been significant to both nations due to the shared 2,000-mile border, the deepening of business, personal, cultural, and community relations over the last two decades have drawn the United States and Mexico closer. Yet on the tenth anniversary of Mexican democracy, it is still in the midst of change, still forging its global political, economic, and social identity. Will it continue to strengthen its democracy, grow its economy, and open its society, or will it fall into a downward spiral of dissatisfaction, violence, and instability?
The stakes for the United States are undeniably high, as its future, too, depends on Mexico's chosen path. While trade, migration, and organized crime and drug trafficking have long been featured on the bilateral agenda, American response to recent events--border violence, swine flu, trade disputes--reflect a profound misunderstanding and an absence of thoughtful analyses of the challenges and opportunities facing these two nations. Through research, consultations, publications, and outreach, this project aims to positively influence and shape U.S. policy on Mexico.
The Global Brazil initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) addresses the domestic, regional, and international dimensions of Brazil's emergence as a world power. Brazil's rise is today well established. Yet even as global challenges increasingly form part of the U.S.-Brazil agenda, the United States faces a glaring deficit in its understanding of Brazil's interests and influence. The scope and importance of Brazil's emergence extends well beyond the U.S.-Brazil relationship. To enhance the quality of public and policy debate on the bilateral and global dimensions of Brazil's rise, the program includes research, consultation, publication, and outreach exploring Brazil's international agenda.
During the first decade of the twenty first century, Latin America has shown itself to be a region with strong growth, stable financial markets, varying but quite vibrant democracies, and vital voices in a number of multilateral forums. Yet it still faces formidable challenges, including boosting economic competiveness, deepening socially inclusive democracies, and building state capacity to improve the lives of all 500 million citizens in the region. The Roundtable Series on Latin America looks broadly at the issues facing Latin American and U.S. policymakers in the coming years ahead, including strengthening the rule of law, physical infrastructure and human capacity building, taxation and governments' revenue stream, poverty and inequality, the potential for public-private partnerships, and capitalizing on energy resources across the region.
Presidential elections will be held in both the United States and Mexico in 2012. This symposium assessed the current issues in U.S.-Mexico relations, including the drug war, organized crime, trade, and immigration. Business leaders, former government officials, and experts from both countries addressed the potential future scenarios for U.S. policies and bilateral cooperation.
This symposium was made possible by the generous support of the Mexican Business Council.
Symposium Rapporteur Rapport: U.S.-Mexico Relations Beyond the 2012 Elections
This symposium is organized with the support of the Consulate General of Mexico in New York and the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York on the occasion of the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution.
Symposium Rapporteur Report: 200 Years of U.S.-Mexico Relations
Illicit transnational flows of goods, money, information, and people increasingly dominate U.S. relations in the Western hemisphere. Latin America remains the major source of cocaine and many other illegal substances for the United States as well as for the growing European markets. Mexico has become the newest power center for the criminal underworld: once considered primarily a "transit" country for illegal drugs from Colombia, Mexican drug trafficking organizations now dominate these markets, extending their reach from initial production in the Southern Cone to final destinations within the United States and elsewhere. Mexican cartels have a strong presence in source countries such in the Andes for cocaine and in Argentina for the precursors for methamphetamine, and they control coastal routes in the Caribbean and pipelines in Central America. On the other end of the chain, the Department of Justice's December 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment states that "Mexican drug trafficking organizations now represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States." The limits of regional and global policy cooperation and coordination have worked to the advantage of organized criminal syndicates. Displaying great resourcefulness, trafficking organizations exploit the policy divide over how best to define and conduct counter-drug and other crime strategies. They also benefit from the weakness of public safety and security mandates within existing multilateral and regional organizations. The challenge for the international community and Western Hemisphere nations in particular, is to build on initial areas of cooperation, finding new ways and new regional mechanisms to reduce the harm that these violent organizations reap on populations across the region.
This project will develop a framework for a Sustainable Energy Partnership for the Americas that goes beyond bilateral agreements and adopts a regional approach towards sustainable growth and clean energy. The objective of this project is to draft a blueprint that will explore, and ultimately define, pathways for collaboration among American states in order to deliver solutions to the region's energy challenges. The blueprint document will be presented at the Summit of the Americas which will take place in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009 and will also be available on our website at that time.
This initiative is a collaboration between scholars and receives support from the Center for International Governance and Innovation, Canada; the Council on Foreign Relations, United States; Centro Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais, Brazil; and University of West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.
At the Council on Foreign Relations, this project is part of the Latin America Studies Program and the International Institutions and Global Governance Program. It is made possible by the generous support of Ford Foundation, the Robina Foundation, and the Tinker Foundation.
This symposium was made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The Western Hemisphere Transnational Roundtable Series investigates the economic, social, and human ties between Western Hemisphere nations that are rapidly developing and deepening. It explores the important ways that citizens, families, civil society organizations, and the private sector shape transnational connections and interactions, while analyzing the so far limited governmental policies that encourage, constrain, or attempt to guide U.S. bound migration. This roundtable series was launched in June 2008 and made possible by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
Despite substantial structural reforms and market opening, Latin America continues to lag behind other developing regions. Trade and economic growth trail far behind both East and South Asia. Value-added and high technology exports remain minimal. Economic inequality rivals even the most troubled African nations, leaving the vast majority of the population without the resources to successfully integrate into an increasingly global marketplace. Limited opportunities at home are driving migratory flows north, changing the economies, societies and polities of both the sending Latin American countries and the main receiving country, the United States. Politically, the narrow gains from globalization are placing democracy at risk. The recent electoral prominence of outsider, populist, and even authoritarian candidates reflects the growing apathy and distrust of citizens, due in large part to the economic exclusion of Latin America's majorities from the benefits of globalization.
The Globalization and Democracy Roundtable Series will look broadly at the issues facing Latin American and U.S. policymakers. Drawing on the experience of practitioners and experts from the public sector, academia, and the private sector, it will systematically examine a range of related issues, including the state of Latin America's social contract, the rule of law, the informal sector, the digital divide, physical infrastructure and human capacity building, taxation and governments' revenue stream, poverty and inequality, the potential for public-private partnerships, and the potential for energy resources to redress social exclusion.
This series is made possible by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
An estimated twelve million illegal immigrants live in the United States, up from five million just ten years ago. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2005 some 78 percent of this population was from Latin America. Despite these startling statistics, U.S. immigration law has not changed in twenty years. There is agreement across the political spectrum that the status quo does not work and that immigration reform is necessary, said Deborah W. Meyers, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. Yet as migration policy experts, immigration lawyers, and journalists discussed in a recent symposium hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, "The Dynamics of Immigration and Integration in the Western Hemisphere," the specifics of how to reform U.S. immigration law have provoked heated debate. Panelists discussed the contentious dynamics of U.S. immigration reform from the perspectives of U.S. policymakers, the general public, and immigrants themselves. The symposium was the final event in this year's "Latin America, America Latin" series at the Council, organized by Council Fellow for Latin America Studies Shannon O'Neil and made possible by the generosity of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The Latin America, America Latin Roundtable Series explores how the growing Hispanic demographic in the United States is reshaping the domestic political and economic landscapes of the United States and of the sending countries. Issues being addressed include the role of remittances and the implications of hemispheric economic integration; transnational culture and the prominence of civil society organizations; security issues related to illegal immigration and drug trafficking; the hispanization of the U.S. market; the effect of Latinos on U.S. foreign policy; and the domestic and foreign policy considerations of U.S. immigration debates.
This roundtable series is made possible by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
New York, New York
Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies
Shannon O'Neil provides analysis on Latin America at shannononeil.com