Beatrice Rangel: Buena Vista's Magic Covers the Americas For the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed a musical band from Cuba, the Buena Vista Social Club, to the White House. Coincidentally, the police operation leading to the arrest of a powerful Honduran family was also codenamed Buena Vista.
By Beatrice E. Rangel
Thursday, October the 15th was consecration day for African American Culture in the Americas. That day, the Buena Vista Social Club Band, based in Cuba, played at the White House to celebrate Hispanic achievement.
The band bears the name of a club created in the late nineteenth century in Cuba that was run along the lines of a cofradia or guild created by the Spaniards. These cofradias evolved into private clubs whose membership was determined by race at a time when the culture of slavery kept Afro-Cubans encapsulated within institutions that would prevent them from mixing with the white population.
The Buena Vista Social Club held dances and musical activities, becoming a popular location for musicians to meet and play during the1940s when it closed its doors. The band became famous in the 1990's when US guitarist Ry Cooder recorded an album with them.
In 1999 German director Wim Wenders produced a documentary of the group's performance with Cooder. The Film was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film. Now these descendants of segregated Cuban's entered the White House to entertain the first African American President in U.S. history, at the same time becoming the first Cuban band in 50 years to perform there.
And by so doing they exorcised the demons of a past marked by discrimination based on color. It also marked the end of Cold War policies which died under the crisp and sentimental notes of Cuban Jazz . Great demise for a group that is on its farewell tour of the world!!
Meanwhile, a few days before in Havana, a Steinway piano had made its way from Astoria, New York to be played by Lang Lang, China's piano prodigy, and Chucho Valdes, the renown Cuban Jazz musician.
The Cuban National Symphony orchestra accompanied them with Marin Alsop as conductor. The concert was a signal to the world of what Cuba is to become soon: one of the trade melting pots of the Americas. Indeed, Cuba will soon retake its ancient role of trade gateway as the Suez canal container ships arrive in Mariel from Asia to continue to the U.S. where they will embark and disembark manufactured products and equipment.
In the process, cultures will blend to nurture the economies of the hemisphere and create a new future for the Americas.
Coincidentally, the police operation leading to the arrest of a powerful Honduran family was also codenamed Buena Vista.
The operation through which U.S. authorities indicted a former Honduran Vice President and two members of his family signals the full deployment of the internationalization of the RICO Act which had been in the makings for years.
Confronted with the rise of a narco state in Venezuela, the potential decriminalization of drug trafficking when used to finance politics by Colombia, and a sea of discontent in Brazil which could give organized crime advancement opportunities, the U.S. took the step of fighting the rising storm with the effective weapon of its legal framework.
For organized crime and terrorist organizations to succeed, they need to interact with the U.S. financial system. Should access be denied, the dividends of crime tend to shrink as do the pleasures such dividends defray.
The indictment of the Rosenthal family members also sent a very strong message to members of Latin American elites in the sense that in the eyes of the U.S. justice system, no matter the power, wealth, or status of a person, all will have to respond for crimes. In a sense, the indictments spelled the end of impunity in Latin America. This is bound to produce two effects: On the one hand, heretofore NGOs fighting corruption and defending the rule of law will certainly have a field day. And their pressure on their countries could start the long and complex process of finally building political systems that are grounded on the impartial and effective administration of justice.
Second, politicians, businessmen and women, and community leaders will feel surveilled by a greater power than their countrymen and women. They would thus tend to behave in a more transparent and honest way. And while good behavior might not last long enough to change the nature of the political systems south of the Rio Grande, it will attract followers who will seek to exorcize the demons of corruption and abuse -- Just as the Buena Vista band expel bad vibes with their wonderful music!!!
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.
Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet series