By Beatrice E. Rangel
Luiz Felipe Lampreia left this world on the same day most of Hispanic nations were commemorating the day of Our Lady of Candelaria. Curiously enough, the religious celebration centers around light and light was the differentiating attribute of Lampreia’s tenure as foreign minister of Brazil and his public service.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Lampreia was a standard bearer of carioca creativity. His passion for music and fine performing arts was well known. While Millennials get their act together by means of meditation, Luiz Felipe would resort to Gregorian Chants for decompression and inspiration.
His knowledge and command of geopolitics was admired by Brazilians and feared by competing nations. His staunch belief in the virtues of balance of power to bring long term stability was well known.
He also surmised the idea that rule of law is essential to development and that it could be fostered through international institutional development. And this belief led him to make two fundamental pieces of international legislation a reality: The UN Convention Against Corrupt Practices and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
You could safely conclude that WTO was Lampreia’s favorite brain child.
A staunch believer in the benefits of free trade, he was also convinced that the only way to liberate developing nations from “negative externalities” such as interest groups opposing competition in trade was to establish a powerful international institution capable of breaking these development obstacles.
Lampreia dedicated a significant part of his diplomatic life to the establishment of WTO.
He skillfully sorted an incredible chain of obstacles created first by many Latin nations and then by Europe.
His dedication to negotiations of GATT’s Uruguay Round on trade liberalization made a very significant difference.
Indeed at the 11th hour when every obstacle had been brought down by Lampreia’s intellectual foxiness, Europe tried to stop the creation of WTO by introducing the TV Without Frontiers directive that virtually placed all communications services outside the reach of WTO.
Lampreia's masterful command of rules of procedure will be recorded by diplomatic history, as this talent allowed the international community to cage Europe’s last minute protectionist drive to not only establish WTO but to set the ground work for the General Agreement on Trade Services signed in 1995.
GATS has since been responsible for the growth boom experienced by the whole world from the turn of the century up and until the financial crisis of 2008. GATS liberated communications from protectionism thereby unleashing trade potential everywhere.
Lampreia’s other master work of diplomacy was the Palermo Convention on Corrupt practices, Money Laundering and Terrorism Finance. This piece of international legislation created the foundations for the effective international fight against corruption. Paradoxically, this very same legislation also allowed Brazilian prosecutors to unveil the horrific corruption in Petrobras.
But above all, Lampreia was the greatest lover Latin America will ever have. His never ending enchantment with the continent baptized by Columbus as “the land of grace” led Lampreia to fight everywhere for the region’s freedom and democracy.
He was the lonely voice that described the rising populism of the late 1990s as a threat to the region's peace, stability, and progress. He was a critic of President Lula’s ideological diplomacy, opposing as alternative the diplomacy of reason that should aim at strengthening Latin America’s capacity to compete with the rest of the world in trade while disseminating its cultural might. His death leaves a profound void in Latin America’s global leadership.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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