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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: From Notre Dame to Venezuela, the World Weeps
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on the similarities between Notre Dame and Venezuela both being destroyed.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

I must confess that I was one among those thousands of people who cried at the scene of Notre Dame in flames.

Given that I was born and raised in Venezuela, I decided to search my soul for the meaning of such sorrow. After all I have been weeping for Venezuela for at least ten years when its was unquestionably evident that the country was on its way to reliving the Cuban experience.

As the current humanitarian tragedy has progressed, tears are part of my daily routine. So, the ravage by fire of the world's most important building from gothic times made little sense. But once you examine the unfolding of the 21st century you begin to understand why Notre Dame matters so much.

This century has taken the world like a perfect storm which brings together adverse meteorological factors to produce mayhem. As a perfect storm few see it because the triggering factors seems to develop individually and separately from each other. Each of these factors is not dangerous individually but when they share time and geography produce disastrous outcomes. This is the story of digitalization, globalization and technology pervasiveness in economic evolution.

The Cold War gave rise to a competition for supremacy in offensive and defensive weapons that led the two existing super powers -- the U.S. and U.S.S.R. -- to trigger innovation storms throughout the world.

The result was a quantum jump in storage, processing and distribution of information that took over economic activity from the 1980s on and that has wiped out consumption and production patterns anchored to the manufacturing age.

That in turn resulted in a mismatch between education and skill sets needed to access productive jobs; between consumption aspirations and access capacity; between vision and attainment; and between education and access to fulfilling jobs.

This transformation found the world under the leadership of the baby boomers -- the most pampered and consequentially self-centered generation the world has ever had.

The free world thus lacked a Sherpa to lead people through the digital storm. There was no Churchill, De Gaulle, Eisenhower or Kennedy in charge who held highly the principles of devoted public service and adherence to the common good.

As a result, people began to see change with fear and suspicion.

Take France, for instance. The proud home of Gaul today is about half African as political chaos in Africa and the Middle East have triggered waves of immigration. The proud and most self-centered country in the Western World now has to share its geography with people that fail to appreciate its long-standing cultural tradition: the superb management of style, the refined approach to design and the beauty of a language that produced the most memorable pieces of universal literature.

And this is happening in their home without warning or preparation.

They are virtually bombed everyday with information bites originating from millions of mobile phones that announce more economic stagnation, more unemployment and less predictability.

For them life flows like a stream that goes to the sea to be lost in the ocean where it becomes unidentifiable and lost. As a result, they thus cling to those symbols that represent assurance, strength, resilience and perpetuity.

And that is what Notre Dame symbolizes. The realization that Notre Dame could succumb brought down a major thread of national pride. The people of France are now left without the spiritual support of an enduring symbol.

From the perspective of a Venezuelan-in-exile, Notre Dame's fire reminded me of the continuing tragedy of a country that has gone through destruction one time too many since Columbus visited its coasts.

Indeed, Venezuela has seen its dreams of development burned through the centuries, from its fall from preeminence as the leading pearl producer to today's regressing production of the largest oil reserves in the world passing through significant cocoa production and coffee power.

To see Notre Dame in flames is to go through the sorrow of seeing Venezuela burning once again without been able to predict when the current destruction is going to end.

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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