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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: Once Upon 2018
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel highlights the three greatest challenges of 2018: Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan was perhaps the last global Wiseman to give significance to historical blunders.

To him accurate forecasts emerged from scenarios in which facts, real forces and main players could be assessed as the players pursued their interests.

These assessments however could become useless whenever a systemic malfunction or a senseless mistake intervened. An unexpected turn of events could, under certain conditions, bring about an Armageddon. To him the proximity created by the invisible army of trade and technology elves through an intricate network linking countries and people increased probabilities for historical mistakes to occur.

Interdependency, he thought, would have the capacity to better align interests among nations but also of making disagreements deeper and more dangerous when not treated within a disciplined method that would effectively address the underlying interests causing the discontent.

Under such conditions, the smallest mistake could bring about a great tragedy. Such was the case of WWI when the Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand having escaped an attempt to his life by Bosnian activists decided to go to the hospital to present his sympathies to those injured in the incident.

On the way to the hospital he ran into the failed assassin Mr. Gavrilo Princip who had an extraordinary second chance to achieve his objective.

Or the decimation of the Austrian Army at the Battle of Karansebes in 1788 by friendly fire, thereby insuring victory for the Turks.

2018 seems to be predestined to be the theater for a major unintentional catastrophe. The field seems to be ripe as technology has brought countries closer than ever, whether friend or foe, trade is pervasive and expectations on leaderships higher.

And as social media and other communications networks continue to present decision makers with unfolding conflicts, pressures to make decisions before all the needed information is in place or tensions pass the ebullient point, insure that opportunities for mistakes mount.

In an ideal situation, these decisions are made with plenty of time to consider the pros and cons. However, that does not always seem to be the case today. Leaders are pressured by social media and citizens to take instant decisions. Sometimes, choices have to be made at split second motion without the decision-maker truly contemplating all the consequences.

Scenarios that might bring upon the world a tragedy are plenty, but I shall concentrate on familiar territory, as I must confess that I still have trouble understanding many of the conflicts scourging Africa.


While the United States attempts to unravel the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers (the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany), Iran seeks ways to restart nuclear proliferation and escape sanctions. Iran secures the support of Russia and other “friendly nations” such as Venezuela. In the process Saudi Arabia is debilitated while Russia gains a bargaining chip in world geopolitical chess. Russia could force a showdown with the U.S. in the Middle East that would debilitate Israel and imperil change in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Instability in Saudi Arabi would drive up oil prices, thereby negatively affecting worldwide economic recovery while injecting cash into Venezuela, a sworn enemy of the U.S.

North Korea (or the priming of a Smart Cookie):

As U.S. intelligence assessments confirm the capability by North Korea to deploy a viable intercontinental missile before 2018 elapses, the US foreign policy apparatus will focus on this country and the options available to torpedo this achievement.

The problem lies in the lack of effective means to achieve such a goal.

Pyongyang has already taken steps to reduce the impact of further sanctions while China and Russia will most probably block any strengthening of sanctions.

Both China and Russia will continue to use North Korea as a bargaining chip to extract advantages from the U.S. in other scenarios.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un might think this to be his great opportunity to exploit the non-encounters among the three world powers and take the initiative deploying an ICBM against an unpopulated U.S. atoll in the Pacific. This would urge a response.


As the situation deteriorates and throngs of people continue starve or flee the country, neighboring nations will feel the pinch in their economic growth and social disruption. One such country is Colombia where pro FARC candidates might triumph in upcoming presidential elections. Being that the FARC are an ally of the Venezuelan regime, an Anschluss could take place.

The U.S. will suddenly face a hostile power at the Caribbean door and the vestibule to the Panama Canal. Russia will definitively be on the side of the hostile powers. The U.S. could be mired in a humanitarian crisis cum trade disruptions in its home hemisphere.

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 series

Beatrice Rangel: Rio -- Demystifying the Olympic Games

Beatrice Rangel: The Luddite Syndrome in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Venezuela's Unexpected Transition

Beatrice Rangel: We Now Have a Wider Canal But Has Our Wisdom Expanded???

Beatrice Rangel: From Brexit to Tesla, Progress is Made by Leaders!!!

Beatrice Rangel: As the World Goes Latin, Latin America Gets Logical

Beatrice Rangel: On the Difficulties of Fighting Barbarism in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: The Impending Age of Housekeeping!!!!

Beatrice Rangel: What Happened to All Those Rosy Forecasts for Latin America?

Beatrice Rangel: On Dialogue and the Rules of Geopolitics in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: The Ides of Wisdom in Venezuela

Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Populism

Beatrice Rangel: Three Ladies in Distress

Beatrice Rangel: Trump, Lula, Kirchner and the Last Tupi-Guaranis

Beatrice Rangel: Time for Departures in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: A Contrarian View on the Panama Papers

Beatrice Rangel: Brazil's Lady in Her Labyrinth

Beatrice Rangel: Back to a Divided Home!!!

Beatrice Rangel: A Historical Take-Off in the Americas??

Beatrice Rangel: A Skipped Journey, a Reaffirmation and a Clearing of Path in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: The Demise of Civility in the Americas!!

Beatrice Rangel: The Americas from Boutros Boutros-Ghali to Ban Ki Moon

Beatrice Rangel: The Pope's Difficult Stopover in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Farewell to The “Diplomacy of Reason”

Beatrice Rangel: 2 Diseases in Latin America -- Different Prescriptions, Very Different Outcomes

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Beatrice Rangel: When Crime Meets Glory

Beatrice Rangel: Playing Hansel and Gretel in the Americas

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Beatrice Rangel: Are the Americas Ready for President Trump?

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Beatrice Rangel: Paris and the Return of Fear

Beatrice Rangel: Marijuana & Latin America's Next Trade Corridor

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Beatrice Rangel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Americas!!

Beatrice Rangel: Buena Vista's Magic Covers the Americas

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Beatrice Rangel: Oh My, The Patron of the Eternal Feminine Has Left Us!!!

Beatrice Rangel: Communism from China to Cuba Finds Corruption!!!

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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

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