By Beatrice E. Rangel"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.”
-----Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
Unfortunately for the Americas, the Dickensian dictum continues to be applicable to the ongoing political transformation that is shaking lives in the southern part of the hemisphere.
For Argentina, it seems to be the best of times.
At long last the people of Argentina exorcised the demons of Peronism whose extreme strand morphed into Kirchnerism and had almost wiped out the nations productive ability.
The road to change has been long, bumpy and splashed with blood.
In the aftermath of Peron’s downfall, the economy was in shambles and freedom crushed by continuing military rule which only gave some respite for about four years when Arturo Frondizi was elected president but sacked from power by a coup d’etàt in 1962.
From that date on, political violence and economic stagnation were the defining traces of Argentinean life. The reigning economic theory was industrialization through import substitution.
The model fostered growth at the outset of the Peronist demise but was soon to reach exhaustion, as the size of the Argentinean market brought to bear decreasing returns. Democracy was the political consequence of an ill-fated war waged by the Argentinean military against the United Kingdom.
A conflict ridden Alfonsin administration was followed by that of Carlos Menem who stabilized a hyper inflationary economy by means of establishing a fixed exchange rate.
For eight years Argentina was able to insert itself into the global economy with a relative degree of success. And that period served as nursery for the new leadership represented by Mauricio Macri. FDI initiated infrastructure development; telecommunications jumped from the 19th to the 20th century; the financial system was revamped and many Argentinians who were top management in multinational corporations came back home bringing with them expert know-how.
The brief modernizing period ended in an economic crash when the country piled up foreign debt which it was not able to honor.
The Kirchner mandate -- also known as the Patagonian night -- took a U-turn to import substitution and heavy subsidies. And while it did not work and the country is once again facing an economic predicament, civic society has matured.
People are clear that the roots of economic decay are to be found in state sponsored economic interventionism. Non Peronist forces have grown to become over half the Argentinian electorate. Political parties have learned to fight and protect the institutional framework. Albeit in a rather weak fashion the judiciary stepped in to abort abusive intervention by the executive. And the people have chosen a leader without a national platform but with very concrete achievements in his mandate as Mayor of Buenos Aires which include the restructuring of health care services; giving Wi-Fi access to all residents and reducing bureaucracy and paper work by 25%. Definitively for Argentina it is the best of times!!!!
In Venezuela the nasty cloud of tragedy seems to have nestled forever.
After a government induced rancorous political campaign laden with violence and fear, the opposition -- which was denied all rights -- capitalized the plight of the people to win a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
Those kind of election results would have made any sensible political leader revise his or her strategy and policies.
It would also lead a rational human being to humble him or herself to the rejection cry issued by the constituency.
President Maduro has instead concentrated on enacting new laws and regulations that would tighten the rope of conflict; elevating to significant political posts the most recalcitrant standard bearers of abuse; and squandering the meagre economic resources in senseless expenditures that the country can ill afford.
Meanwhile the newly elected members of the National Assembly are concentrating on finding a way to execute the people’s mandate, which calls for the suspension of current economic policies, the liberation of political prisoners, and the establishment of peaceful resolution among political forces.
President Maduro’s strategy to add tension to an already boiling pot seems to be aiming at imposing collective martyrdom on the country, as the food and medicine supply situation has already collapsed.
This places Venezuela at the doorstep of the most colossal humanitarian crisis since the Rwanda-Burundi civil strife that took the life of between 500,000 and 1 million people.
To be sure, Venezuela has no operative reserves left; the gold has been pawned about two times and except for the U.S., India and China, there is no cash coming in from oil exports.
Most food and medicine exporters are not delivering products to Venezuela unless they are paid in advance.
Without foreign exchange a food and medicine blackout is in the makings.
Should this horrific situation materialize, generalized anarchy could ensue, as for either political or survival reasons the Venezuelan population is heavily armed. Colectivos pride themselves in parading AK-47s; parents give college age children pistols to protect themselves; neighborhoods have their weapons cache ready to repel assaults by criminals.
As food scarcity worsens, violence will most certainly sprout. Colombia could face a sudden migration inflow of 2 million people while Venezuela sees once again its youth and its working people disappear under violence or forced migration. Frankly, from the days of Jose Tomas Boves, there have not been worse times in Venezuela. 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.
Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet seriesBeatrice Rangel: Of Burning Airplanes & Argentinean Tsunamis
Beatrice Rangel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: Buena Vista's Magic Covers the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Pride and Perjury in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Trompe L’oeils Proliferate in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: The Economic Consequences of Peace in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Colombia, the FARC & the Makings of Gangland in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: When Extreme Weather Meets Extreme Politics Calamities are Bound to Happen
Beatrice Rangel: When Ladies Hit 70
Beatrice Rangel: About Uninformed Elites and Gullible Leaders
Beatrice Rangel: On US-Engineered Soft Landings in Cuba and Venezuela
Beatrice Rangel: On the Many Ways Cecil Matters
Beatrice Rangel: Blue Moons Lead to Extraordinary Happenings in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: On Why Embassy Openings Do Not Necessarily Herald Different Policies
Beatrice Rangel: When Jupiter meets Venus
Beatrice Rangel: When Markets and Manners Crash
Beatrice Rangel: From Grexit to Exit, Contagion is in the Air
Beatrice Rangel: An Infuriated God & An Environmental Crusader Mark the Summer Solstice
Beatrice Rangel: Between Ionesco & the Falklands Syndrome
Beatrice Rangel: The Ugly Americas
Beatrice Rangel: How FIFA Corrupted the Beautiful Game in the Americas and World
Beatrice Rangel: Could the US RICO Act Be Applied to Latin America?
Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Commodities for Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: The End of the Chinese Free Lunch in the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: The Crooked Twig of Democracy in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Of a White Knight for Three Latin American Ladies in Distress
Beatrice Rangel: Withdrawal Symptoms?
Beatrice Rangel: The Un-Mannered Summit
Beatrice Rangel: Easter Miracles in Latin America and the World
Beatrice Rangel: Two Islands, Two Legacies & One Challenge - Modernity
Beatrice Rangel: Killing Me Softly -- the Obama Administration’s Legacy in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Of Upcoming Dynasties and Exhausted Ideas in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Of Thunderous Silences, Quiet Noises and Flash Backs in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Latin America's Dangerous Exports to Europe & the Demise of an Old Fox
Beatrice Rangel: Of Sweet Deals, Sugar Daddies, Direct Mail & Obama’s Care
Beatrice Rangel: Of Latin American Singing Birds, Femme Fatales & Empty Shelves
Beatrice Rangel: When Flying Dragons & Rage Infusions Turn Against Their Latin American Masters
Beatrice Rangel: Holy Haberdashery!!! Is Fire Building Under the Surface in the Americas??
Beatrice Rangel: 2015 -- A Year for Balance in the Americas???
Beatrice Rangel: Pope Francis Looks at the Americas In His Christmas Remarks
Beatrice Rangel: The Paint Brush Hanging from the Wall in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: A Future for the Americas??
Beatrice Rangel: Going Forward, Going Backward -- It's the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: An Eerily Familiar Week in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Tale of Two Walls
Beatrice Rangel: Across the Americas, We the PEOPLE
Beatrice Rangel: Across Latin America, The Populist Beat Goes On!!
Beatrice Rangel: Oh My, The Patron of the Eternal Feminine Has Left Us!!!
Beatrice Rangel: Communism from China to Cuba Finds Corruption!!!
Beatrice Rangel: From Rio to Hong Kong Discontent Taps the East to Find a New Way
Beatrice Rangel: Will Latin America Miss the Broadband Development Target?
Beatrice Rangel: Kissinger’s World Order and Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: The Third Attempt -- Will Modernity Prevail in Latin America?
Rangel: While US is Away, Latin America Rethinks Development Paths
Rangel: In the Midst of Riots, a Star is Born in Brazil
Rangel: In Mexico Cinderella Gets to the Ball while Colombia Gets a Chance at Peace