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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: Lessons from the Irishman
Former Venezuela Minister of Ministers Beatrice Rangel discusses what Martin Scorsese's latest movie can teach Latin American leaders about corruption.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

Martin Scorsese just launched his latest creation: the story of Frank Sheeran, a truck driver turned into a hitman by virtue of his relation to the mob master Russell Buffalino.

Mr Sheeran becomes involved in organized crime when his survival began to be contingent to his relative disposition to agree with Buffalino. Through Buffalino Sheeran meets Jimmy Hoffa, the legendary International Brotherhood of Teamsters leader who disappeared on July 1975 without leaving a trace of his whereabouts or a corpse being found by law enforcement.

It so happens according to the film that Mr Hoffa -- who also developed links to organized crime at an early age when he was a truck driver -- was murdered by Mr Sheeran on instructions from the mob because he had become a liability.

Mr Hoffa had been found guilty in various courts of law of the crimes of jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud. Once released from prison, Mr Hoffa attempted to go back to the IBT chair, a goal not shared by the Cosa Nostra.

The movie is quite opportune in these times of profound and multifaceted change when so many leaders are confused and taken by surprise by events.

And in the depths of confusion, many strategic mistakes can be brought to bear.

The first is the belief by one too many democratic forces in Latin America that there is room for exchanges with financial representatives of organized crime. Those that believe this course of action to be desirable in terms of avoiding violence or protracted negotiations to access much needed cash to finance political mobilization, democratic participation and democratic restoration.

This -- besides being naïve -- is dangerous, as once organized crime gets a hold of anybody's finances that person or institution becomes its operational base.

The second mistake has been adopted by the leftist establishment in the region. Most of its leaders believe that concluding alliances with drug traffickers will accelerate the fall of the U.S. while bringing prosperity to Latin America.

Truth of the matter is that the United States will eventually face the drug challenge through means that do not require weapons while the drug cartel allies in Latin America will become their kidnapped prey forever.

Finally, and equally important is the lesson about the law of negative returns and onerous liabilities. For organized crime people and institutions simply are resources to feed on illegal activities. Should a partner or ally begin to produce negative returns, he or she turns into a an onerous liability which needs to "be taken care of." Thus, you simply disappear.

Let's hope that the film gets a good audience in Latin America.

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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