By Beatrice E. Rangel
2015 has finally taken off in the Americas, bringing with it some clear air turbulence from 2014.
In one of the most watched countries in Latin America -- Cuba -- as the Old Year was coming to a close, the government decided to show everyone who is truly in control. A protest rally convened by a dissident artist Tania Bruguera was aborted by means of arresting everyone involved and distributing powerful jabs in the process.
That tempestuous finale is difficult to match with what numerology and other more speculative sciences tell us about what to expect from 2015. According to numerology, 2015 is the year for restoring balance. It is represented by the number 8 which is a number that can only hold together when there is balance. And balance can only be achieved when all weights are evenly distributed.
Restoring balance in the world would presumably entail aligning the power of technology creation with that of moral virtue -- where the world clearly has a deficit. This want was curiously underlined by two spiritual leaders: Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama.
Both spiritual leaders seem to believe that the inroads made by technology over the last century surpass our ability to develop institutional frameworks that by means of winning the hearts of the lay man are enforced through civic behavior. I would think that one should at least give a second thought to warnings issued by two leaders whose religions are a world apart.
There, of course are other imbalances in the world which both leaders also mentioned such as that of tolerance versus intolerance and the powerful versus helpless. For them, 2015 should be about filling gaps and distributing weights which, to their minds, should be a harmonious exercise.
Harmony indeed needs to return to several countries in the region. Notably among them Brazil and Mexico.
In Brazil, the time for reform is past due. It has been estimated that by reforming the tax code to simplify it and reduce loopholes, the Brazilian treasury could earn $6 billion in extra income during the first year even if GDP does not grow.
Then there is the finely knitted bureaucratic network that sustains the Brazilian Jeitinho, the single most important source of corruption. Reducing regulation would bring in transparency, something badly needed by a government that is showing severe falls in its popularity after the country learned that Petrobras was more adroit at practicing the jeitinho than exploiting the Pre-Salt fields.
Another country in search for harmony is Mexico, where reform plans need to gather force in the midst of the greatest discontent the country has ever had with its leadership. The execution of 43 students by organized crime in cahoots with local and state authorities presents Mexico for the first time in many decades with an ugly picture of itself.
The rule of law and transparency has been postponed for so long that Mexico is hostage to organized crime. The gangs have moved on from the streets to occupy City Halls and State Gubernatorial Mansions. The upcoming trip of President Pena-Nieto to Washington could perhaps serve the purpose of disrupting that route and concentrating on bossing development with ideas like the promotion of an industrial strip along the banks of the Rio Grande, for example.
Argentina seems finally headed towards eventual harmony with the upcoming elections in October where all potential victors seem to believe in the logic of market forces. But one wonders if this will be enough for the population to finally understand that Peronism is anti-competition and that competition is the source of growth and development whether in the private or public domain.
According to Chinese astrology, 2015 will see the arrival of the year of the goat. The goat which was the eighth animal to come to the presence of Buddha represents Yin energy. Accordingly, harmonious coexistence and tranquility should prevail. This however does not seem to be the case in Venezuela and to a minor degree in Colombia.
In the birthplace of Bolivar, the governing clique has excelled at destruction. The economy is in ruins; the country holds the world homicide record; food is becoming so rare and expensive it will soon be sold in jewelry shops; and the country’s infrastructure reminds us of Star Wars when the Empire leveled the Old Republic. These public policies have effectively created a Death Star in Venezuela that is about to implode. The question that arises is: Will the good offices of the Vatican succeed in averting the implosion? Or will they have to negotiate a capitulation after there is only barren land?
In Colombia, the FARC seem to approach negotiations in Conga: One step forward, two steps backwards. Meanwhile they continue to blow up oil pipelines and takes hostages. One wonders if the show will go on after the thaw in US-Cuban relations?
Trusting that those that read the stars and the movements around Buddha’s entourage are right about this being the year when harmony sets onto planet earth, one can only pray that the large and quite visible obstacles to attaining this goal vanish or at least diminish.Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet seriesBeatrice Rangel: Pope Francis Looks at the Americas In His Christmas Remarks
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Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.