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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: From Pompeii to Covid-19 Humans Have Short Memories
Former Venezuelan Minister of Ministers Beatrice Rangel on Paris, Pompei and Pandemics.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

Paris is about to enjoy the greatest exhibition on the history of Pompeii, the Roman trading post that single-handedly contributed 15% of the Empire's GDP.

The site will be the Grand Palais where Parisians will be able to walk through a street of Pompeii while Vesuvius begins its deadly eruption. Frescoes, artifacts, scrolls and other sorts of daily utensils recovered from the walls of lava that drowned the city will immerse visitors in the daily lives of some of the most affluent citizens of Rome.

And through a very sophisticated process of scanning, scientists are now able to reconstruct every corner of the city as it was in 79 AD in a 3D display.

It was a modern city where trade-propelled affluence had led its inhabitants to venture into cultural synergies and scientific experimentation.

Pompeii was Roman in name but multicultural in appearance and soul. The exhibition will thus take visitors into those times when an over confident civilization decided not to pay heed to an impending threat from nature that ultimately buried the city in ashes.

Indeed, we now know that Pompeii's economic significance to Rome had led the empire to mobilize huge resources to support a rebuilding effort in the aftermath of the February 62 AD earthquake. The city was badly damaged and beginning in late 62 through 74 AD renovation took place. By 79 the Vesuvius eruption wiped away the city.

Many historians consider the 62 AD earthquake as a signal to Pompeiians that they needed to set tent in another place free from the threat of an active volcano. But human beings seldom pay attention to the signs of mother nature.

Would they we would not be losing a whole population of polar bears, the turquoise and swimming pool like beaches of Miami Beach, and hurricanes would be less destructive than they have recently been.

The same attitude prevails vis-à-vis pandemics.

My generation -- I am a baby boomer -- has gone through three pandemics at times when they already were close to the top of the worldwide decision-making pyramid. There was HIV; there was the swine flu; and now there is Covid 19.

In all three cases the recipe to tame the threat is: first identify infected people; then isolate them for treatment; then protect those that has not contracted the virus.

But in all three we have failed this time.

And in all three cases our first reaction to the outbreaks have been: first denial and then haphazard responses that leave one too many holes in the execution plan allowing the virus to spread.

And while the pharmaceutical industry has come up with an answer to successfully treat HIV and the Swine Flu, over 60% of the world population does not have access to the HIV treatment or Swine flu vaccination.

Aztra Seneca has announced that it has now come with the silver bullet to deal with Covid 19 which is a vaccination. But will it reach the world population on time before a second and third eruption kills many millions of people while promoting fear among politicians?

Fear prompts them to confine citizens and massive confinements are killing the world economy.

Stay tuned for yet another miss by most of the world political leadership. Because despite the heavy talk about how dangerous China is, the West -- except for countries like Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay -- is taking the Chinese authoritarian route to dealing with Covid19.

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.


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