By Beatrice E. Rangel
Miami has proven its world status again: It IS the capital city of the Americas.
For the two first weeks of December 2014 this status was amply demonstrated again. First was Art Basel -- the world famous art fair that brought to the city the best and brightest ideas about imaginative, creative, and artistic expansion into business, technology, and design.
The ambiance was bright, optimistic and full of innovative and inspiring discussions. The hemispheric leadership was in full attendance. From Argentina to Canada leading intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and technology creators mingled in conference rooms, workshops, display halls, and parties.
After a week of listening to their conversations several conclusions are unavoidable: First, China is about to produce a larger basket of goods and services than the US economy. But these goods and services have a long way to go in terms of quality, design, and capacity to transform tastes.
And because the rapidly growing urban middle classes do not see Japan or Russia or any of their neighbors as role models, the US products and services will end up leading in market share. Yes, they will be manufactured by Chinese companies which will then have a vested interest in preventing piracy.
Luxury goods will have their day for a while until the Chinese Millennials give way to the Chinese Generation C which will develop the intriguing habit of abhorring brands for non durable goods while idolizing tech brands and products. Amazon and Ali Baba will have their day and used (sorry!!) vintage watches, pens, chains, pill boxes and key holders will become objects of reverence. The same will apply to cars and clothes. Sixties and seventies memorabilia will be hunted like the Holy Grail was in the Middle Ages.
Second, newer port cities in the US will lead the development wave. San Francisco and Miami, for instance, will be far hotter than New York both in climate as well as business. They will be the exchange nuclei of Shanghai and, as Shanghai, melting pots for East and West. In brief, Art Basel gave us the sense that the future has set in.
But after this magic week, reality set in when the Clinton Foundation sponsored the Future of the Americas Conference on the 20th Anniversary of US President Bill Clinton's Summit of the Americas, which we hope will set future foreign policy directions. There we learned that growth is stalling everywhere but in China, where it is slower but crispier than in the rest of the world. That Latam countries have almost all failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals and that except for gender equality, the rest of the goals will need another 15 years to really materialize.
We also heard all over again at this propitious time of the year the recount of Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities
. The hemisphere is divided into two types of governance, life, and production styles. One moving closer to Miami while the other goes in the direction of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the hemisphere. Life in Ushuaia is a constant survival test as climate, nature, and foreigners seldom cooperate to enhance living standards. Consumption is limited, communications weak and creation negligible and focused on the constant struggle. This, of course, precludes any movement towards the Art Basel kind of vision for the future. If so, then how will the Americas benefit from the Art Basel vision that claims a freedom ridden territory creating things of value to the rest of the world and to its citizens? This brings to mind president Lincoln’s dictum that “this nation cannot survive half slave; half free.”
"I recommend reading The Social Conquest of Earth
by E.O. Wilson," Clinton told the hand-picked assembled group of Latin America's top presidents, leading thinkers and most successful entrepreneurs. "He's a Nobel Prize winning microbiologist and he writes about the history of life on Earth from single-cell organisms to the present day."
"He says that if you look at all the species that have ever lived on planet Earth, the most successful are ants, termites, bees and people. Why? Because they're the greatest cooperators. Cooperation will save the future. And America should lead it. Every time humanity has been in danger of extinguishing itself, our consciousness and our conscience have led us to come together. That's the big issue of the 21st century. That's the great fight of the next 25 years," Clinton told us as Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos chimed in.
Will the Americas escape this self evident truth? We trust the kind and strong leadership by the next American president will take on her predecessor’s wise advice to secure a united Americas.Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet seriesBeatrice Rangel: Going Forward, Going Backward -- It's the Americas!!
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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.