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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: Nobody is Listening to the Grass as It Grows
"Once upon a time Chairman Mao revealed to Roger Peyrefitte his secret for success by cryptically indicating 'I know my people because I pause to hear the grass grow'" writes former Venezuela Minister of Ministers Beatrice Rangel, looking at what is happening in Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela. "In our hemisphere political leadership seems to have entered a hypnotic state that prevents them from even seeing the grass."

By Beatrice E. Rangel

Once upon a time Chairman Mao revealed to Roger Peyrefitte his secret for success by cryptically indicating "I know my people because I pause to hear the grass grow."

He was underlining the significance of careful observation of change in public policy formulation.

Needless to say, that Chairman Mao's motives were repressive as his aims were to suppress freedom and have the state decide for the citizenry. And because he could anticipate change, the regime he created was able to morph into an unheard form of capitalism that combines economic competition with political control of freedom.

The system however seems to be facing strong headwinds in Hong Kong where the technology genie and trade created one of the most powerful economic hubs of the 20th century and whose inhabitants now refuse to subject themselves to Beijing's political control.

Obviously Mr Xi Jinping does not seem to be as learned in matters pertaining to grass symphonies as the founder of modern China. To be sure, Beijing was as surprised by the Hong Kong protest movement as were President Sebastian Pinera in Chile and President Lenin Moreno in Ecuador.

In our hemisphere political leadership seems to have entered a hypnotic state that prevents them from even seeing the grass.

Take the U.S. for example. President Trump started his mandate under the very auspicious signs of interest in revamping the country's infrastructure to bring it up to 21st century quality. Instead he has spent three years twitting down everyone that thinks differently from him.

Meanwhile Congress seems to believe that impeaching the president is more important than facing head on the opioid crisis and weapons regulation. Both problems are the symptoms of a deep existential crisis lambasting the U.S.

Certainly, technology change has slowly and quietly erased the economic blueprint of the country while creating a new one where people feel lost and useless. Hence, they resort to drug consumption; they wield weapons against other human beings; and they fall prey to populism.

Since 2000 approximately 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost . And, of course, an equal or similar number of employments have been created by technology particularly in the AI area. But the people who have lost their jobs in manufacturing do not know coding, software writing or computer programming. They thus take refuge in numbness, aggression, or mobilization behind a new savior.

Meanwhile political leadership is in a state of dangerous denial killing its anxiousness by tweeting or impeaching making the crisis worse by the day -- a crisis that has materialized on account of their lack of capacity to hear the grass grow.

And the prospects of it resolving itself are close to zero. On the contrary, it will certainly worsen. Self-driving trucks that will positively impact U.S. GDP will render jobless millions of truck drivers. They will either follow the path of drugs or weapons or file for disability to never come back to employment thereby making social security insolvency a certain outcome.

In Chile -- the sole developed country in Latin America -- the destructive wave of youth wrath took President Pinera and the country's elite by surprise. Protest went beyond expressing discontent to destroying the means of transportation that contribute to middle class creation, companies that provide employment and research institutions the produce knowledge.

Vandalism and violent lampooning of the leadership and their relatives became a daily routine . Unrest and economic paralysis have already severely impacted Chile's debt ratings and rate of GDP growth.

The question arises. Why the most fortunate citizens South of the Rio Grande are destroying the foundations of their wellbeing? Chileans and in particular young Chileans want a welfare state that resembles that of Sweden, Denmark or Norway. And this of course is unsustainable with the current Chilean resource basket. As member of the OECD Chile's standard of living is not compared to those of Latin America which are inferior but to those of Europe , the U.S. and Canada.

In this comparative analysis Chile loses vis-à-vis investors and its own people. And this has brewed the sea of discontent that erupted with the strength of a volcano. Add to this hellish mixture the interest of Cuba in creating hemispheric havoc as means to protect itself from a potential U.S. aggression to understand the intensity of the destruction wave.

Chilean democratic leadership is now caught in a double whammy of civic unrest and economic deceleration. A prime condition for Cuba and organized crime to penetrate Chile. Because unfortunately for our hemisphere Cuba comes with Venezuela and Mexico . These last two countries are mere shells operated by organized crime. And Chile means business for both Cuba and organized crime.

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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