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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Energy
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on one of the immortal causes of strife among nations.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

I will ways remember the great geopolitical mind of our times directing me towards the study of energy.

To his mind, energy was "the power gatekeeper who controls energy and can force following even on the fiercest of enemies." I thus took the course with Dan Yergin en lieu of one on new technologies offered at MIT.

Time has proved my advisor right. When correctly analyzed, most ingrained conflicts have their roots in energy possession. Energy drove most conflict in ancient times as well as those of the 19th century when control of European rivers was fundamental to access energy production which was basically generated by charcoal and hydropower.

When oil entered the world scene, its geopolitics drove world powers to completely unknown or forgotten geographies, except for Texas perhaps, and oil seemed to have a proclivity to nest in intimidating regions.

Today oil is about to pass center stage to a basket of energy sources where natural gas would most probably reign with solar supporting most for uses different from transportation.

But its demise would seem to have been orchestrated by a world leadership that learned from past conflicts and has little taste to repeat the carnage of the two World Wars or to shoulder the economic consequences of conflict.

To be sure, most economies are mid-way through the transformation of industrial to digital societies with the political stress this generates as there always are losers in the process that need to be supported to survive in the new environment lest you want them to follow populist leaders.

Also, while institutional restructuring takes place, debt has been mounting and wars bring back home veterans that need special health services that are beyond the capacity to pay of most governments.

In short, no one has the appetite for an oil-induced war nowadays.

The world leadership has thus taken a very cautious stance at energy redeployment entailing the creation of a strong network of energy concerns that are slowly building the pillars of the next world energy matrix. Among them significant exchanges take place on daily basis. These exchanges are building an energy matrix that supports the value chain from different sources and reduces the cost of generation, thereby creating new efficiencies.

This explains the rather passive attitude of most law enforcement authorities concerning deep and ingrained corruption in state owned oil companies such as PDVSA in Venezuela or NNPCO in Nigeria.
But corruption has taken an unexpected turn that is threatening to bring down the carefully crafted world energy grid that would substitute for oil. Corruption is about to penetrate that grid with quite unwanted establishments.

Notably among the newcomers is organized crime who seldom leaves behind its twin brother terrorist financing.

It so happens that both PDVSA and NNPC were about to fall pray to these siblings when greed served law enforcement agencies notice. The Venezuelan leaders of the company that had reached the Fortune 500 status began to stash mountains of cash in Andorra. And because they showed off their riches to a porter at a very snobby hotel in Paris, they ended up being investigated first by Surete, then by FinCen, and ultimately by the U.S. Justice Department.

Soon the wires deployed by organized crime and terrorist financing became evident. The U.S. forced the Spanish authorities to arrest four former PDVSA officials and who then decided to cooperate, which led to new and more forceful sanctions by the U.S. on the Venezuelan management government team.

In Nigeria the West chose to support a leader that would reign in corruption: Muhammadu Buhari, a peculiar Nigerian who, according to the Financial Times, "has no foreign accounts, lives in the same house for the last three decades and spends weekends in a farm he keeps since his times in the military."

Mr Buhari has been on a clean-up mission ever since taking power. There have been several attempts on his life that have been kept confidential. He is now restructuring NNPC with a view to turn it into a Fortune 500 company before oil gives up its protagonist role in the energy temple.

The PDVSA indictments together with the Nigerian restructuring promise to produce more material for successful Netflix series than the Harry Weinstein Story.

Indeed, both exercises have the ingredients to become mile markers for this decade given that the scandals reveal the existing degree of coziness tying together the elites of the world energy concerns; public officials in so called emerging markets and the never missing Wall Street Commodity traders.

On the capture patrol there are the new heroes that do not work for the CIA or MI5 anymore but for the Financial Action Task Force (GAFI), Interpol and FInCen. Something to turn you once again into a couch potato!!

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

Beatrice Rangel: The Gifts of Christmas!!!!!!

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

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


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