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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: Venezuela's Two Casualties -- Freedom & Multilateralism
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on the historical reasons for the continuing tragedy of Venezuela.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

Developments in Venezuela seem to continue to produce more casualties than hope.

For too long a time the people of Venezuela have seen their freedom and wellbeing drift away like sand in a river bank. Indeed wellbeing has experienced such deterioration that Venezuela's current situation brings ghastly memories of the sufferings of the Ibo nation during the civil war in Nigeria.

And in spite of unequivocal demonstrations from the civic society of its desires to promote a regime change by peaceful means, the truth of the matter is that the Venezuelan regime is today stronger and in a greater disposition to uproot any democratic trace than it was at the beginning of this year.

This sudden strengthening of the most heinous regime ever to set foot in Latin America can only be understood in terms of the structure of power in Venezuela.

The countries in Latin America were created by Spain as rent extracting platforms destined to support the Crown in its quest for codification of its power status in Europe. Political institutions were designed to control the population so as to secure rent extraction.

The means of control were the possession of minerals and any other asset lying underground.

Political participation and freedom are anathema to rent extraction, an activity designed to flourish under strict control and with few operators.

Independence did little to change this political structure. It merely opened the doors to rent extraction to leaders of armed bands that had enough weapon power to successfully claim a piece of the action.

And the region continued its development adding to these institutional pillars windows, doors and decorations taken from the American Revolution or the French Illustration.

With time those countries lacking rich deposits of minerals and jewels that were the crown assets had to rely on individual initiative to develop. Such countries could create more freedom seeking institutions.

Sadly, the list is rather short in this group, but includes Costa Rica, Uruguay and most recently Chile.

Other countries which derive an inordinate amount of their wellbeing from mineral extraction or fossil fuel exploitation preserved the colonial institutional network. These became the least free, the most corporativist and the best destination for corrupt dealing.

The list here is rather extensive with Venezuela, Mexico and Brasil leading the charge.

Venezuela is perhaps the most corporativist of all given the strategic nature of oil for the 20th century power structures and the determinant role of oil in GDP generation.

This reality holds the secret to understanding its current predicament.

Oil makes factions of the economic elites directly or indirectly part of the power structure. It therefore is impossible to succeed in any business without the support or at least the neutrality of the regime.

Opposition leaders in Venezuela do not derive their income from Mars but from economic activities that are either tolerated or even supported by the regime. For them to call an all-out war means to agree to a suicide.

The regime knows this and lets the dice roll suspending the game only when the opposition is overruled by civic society. Brutal repression sets in until civic society is defeated and the government resumes the game.


From the international perspective, the corporativist drama being played in Venezuela destroys any possibility for multilateral action.

For how can the international community attempt to set up a humanitarian channel in Venezuela if the opposition is part of a government that needs to be overruled.

How can democratic societies in Europe or Asia claim that the institutions created by the Venezuelan regime are freedom traps if the opposition pays tribute to those institutions.

Multilateral paralysis sets in.

This explains the rather tepid statement of the recently held meeting of the Lima group in Toronto, Canada that calls on the U.N. to take the lead in fighting the regime in Venezuela.

This, of course is the wrong road to multilateral action given complex relationship between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

Multilateralism at this stage can only succeed through the display of international penal law.

This has two avenues. One is the Treaty of Rome while the other is the Palermo Convention.

Both depend for their deployment of the judiciary not the executive power anywhere. And perhaps this could be the only breathing device left to multilateralism given that to the designs of traditional diplomacy are dead and dormant 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 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

Beatrice Rangel: On Health Alerts and the Long Arm of Justice in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: When Crime Meets Glory

Beatrice Rangel: Playing Hansel and Gretel in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Good News/Bad News Starts The Monkey Leap Year

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Beatrice Rangel: Crying Wolf in Venezuela

Beatrice Rangel: A 21st Century Tale of Two Cities

Beatrice Rangel: Are the Americas Ready for President Trump?

Beatrice Rangel: On Predictions of War & Global Confusion

Beatrice Rangel: Paris and the Return of Fear

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

Beatrice 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

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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

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

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