By Beatrice E. Rangel
Some weeks in the Americas can be great inspirations yet others could trigger disbelief and even amusement. The past week was quite bewildering.
Two events took center stage. On the one hand the EU-CELAC meeting in Brussels and down in the tropics experts began to fear the presence of the Falkland Syndrome in Venezuela.
In Brussels, discussion papers, position statements and visions for the future reflected a world that neither exists nor is about to exist. The event theme was "Shaping our common future: working for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens." Curiously enough, "cohesive," "sustainable" and "prosperous" would not precisely describe either Latin America . . . or Europe as a whole, for that matter. Only Germany would fit that description today.
Then there is the issue of the means to achieve the goals. These are firstly, the joint initiative on Research and Innovation which was concocted with the mission to promote sustainability and social inclusion through targeted R&D. Needless to speculate on when R&D will produce such results.
Then comes the Structured Dialogue on Migration with the task of promoting exchanges of best practices ON IMMIGRATION! Coming from two regions of the world where the migration snapshots include sinking boats with thousands of impoverish migrants and people bursting from a rundown train dubbed The Beast running between Guatemala and the North of Mexico where at least 100 desperate migrants lose their lives every year, one wonders which the winning practice would be.
Finally, there will be Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism on Drugs aimed at "tackling the world drug problem." While welcome, this initiative seems to be "too little, too late," given that no material resources are allocated to the cooperation mechanism and that 51% of drug traffic from Latin America to Europe has Venezuela as departure point. Venezuela's head of state did not attend the conference.
Besides, the value of drug trade in Europe seems on the rise and about to become on par with that of the US. This would call for stronger means to confront such menace.
But perhaps the decision that brought the meeting closest to the Ionesco mentality was that of allocating 180 million euros for the purpose of building transport, energy and environmental protection. One wonders whether any of the project supporters knows that investment needs in Latin America are about $250 Billion per year over this and the next decade just to enable the region's economy to compete with Asia. The EU-CELAC fund would thus be equivalent to 0.46% of the region's annual needs.
Venezuela was also both an agenda item in Brussels as well as headliner during the past week. Not only the refusal by local authorities to allow former President of the Spain Felipe Gonzalez to visit the two most prominent political prisoners -- Messrs. Lopez and Ceballos -- projected the country into the limelight, but the country also issued a clear threat to neighboring Guyana concerning its petroleum exploitation plans in the continental shelf.
After years of neglect to the international proceedings pertaining to the decades old territorial claim by Venezuela to Guyana, the Bolivarian regime declared a good part of the border as a military zone. The idea being to block oil exploitation by means of frightening Exxon and Guyana. The game of chicken seemed to be working for Venezuela in so far as for the first time since the death of President Chavez, citizens showed support for the government.
But, alas the Guyanese took the threat to international institutions. Venezuela is thus left with no other way out but to blink, thereby calling loss or to proceed thereby calling war. And while the government might enjoy support for war, it will hardly be able to execute a successful war operation. To begin with, so much looting has taken place within the government that most probably Venezuelan Army tanks are being raffled in some Middle Eastern bazaar; second there is no foreign exchange to secure ammunition. Third, there is no way to defray the logistics of a war exercise. In sum, the Falklands syndrome will be short lived in Venezuela!!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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