By Beatrice E. Rangel
Summer promises to be especially intense for the U.S. Secret Service and the local police departments everywhere in the country.
Campaign season seems to be evolving into a less amusing remake of Catch as Catch Can as Mr. Trump's adversaries and supporters set for a face off.
And as the most rancorous campaign ever run in the US unfolds to the bewilderment of the rest of the world that has not seen such U.S. domestic brawl since the days of the fights for civil rights, a new beginning seems to be in the makings South of the Rio Grande.
Wednesday, March the 9th 2016 will be remembered as the day impunity died in the Americas.
On that date, Brazilian prosecutors filed charges against the most popular Brazilian politician alive, former head of state Luiz Inacio Da Silva ( Lula).
Independently of whether President Da Silva is found guilty or acquitted, the fact that he has been subject to the rule of law makes a wave of difference in Brazil and Latin America where elite members are above the law.
The decision to prosecute follows a 19 year prison sentence dictated several days before to Marcelo Odebretch, the CEO of the leading Brazilian multinational corporation whose earnings easily surpassed those of Gerdau, Intercement; Stefanini and Metalfrio before the Petrobras scandal.
These events unveil a political transformation that began three years ago when the Brazilian Judiciary took aim at Petrobras following a deposition by Alberto Youssef, a convicted money launderer accused of perpetrating fraud against the state own oil giant.
As Mr Youssef warned his lawyers: "Should I speak, the country breaks down." Two and a half years later, there have been 117 indictments; 13 companies face criminal cases and five politicians are firmly in jail.
This outcome has not only shaken Brazil to its foundations, but Latin America as a whole, given the connectivity among networks of launderers, graft dispensers and fraud perpetrators.
Indeed, the Petrobras scandal has reached almost every shore on the region, as in virtually every nation there were financial institutions, shell companies and fraud operators efficiently working to hide the flows of cash ripped off from the oil giant.
And while the investigation has focused on Brazil only, discovery phase findings for most trials signal in the direction of other countries such as Venezuela, Panama, Caribbean islands, Argentina and Colombia.
It is needless to speculate on the repercussions of these events upon other nations once this information is used by foreign prosecutors to nail down external parts of the corruption network.
In Brazil, the Petrobras cleanup process will most probably soon trigger a change of head of state and the renewal of almost all the business community leadership.
As in the public sector where "Operation Lava Jato " (Operation Car Wash) would have never been possible without the dedication of young prosecutors mostly trained in the U.S., the ascent of a U.S. educated business leadership will certainly strengthen the moral resolve and competitive drive in up-to-date too crony business community.
In the end Brazil will emerge for the first time in its history as a regional power because it will be the nation giving rise to rule of law.
And as Brazil marches slowly and with difficulties into its new commanding heights, the region would need to engage in a deep examination of the requirements to succeed in the 21st century.
Once the U.S. presidential campaign is over and whoever wins is forced to face the crude reality of a divided country, a gasping economy, an unruly world and a distraught infrastructure, the domestic dimension will impose itself on the presidential agenda.
Latin America will thus be in the enviable position of being able to define the hemispheric agenda. Our nations will then find their greatest development obstacle to be the absence of rule of law.
Next would come infrastructure and next true integration.
All these dilemmas have been made easier to tackle after March 2016 when the end of impunity clears the path to a new public and private leadership, transparency in the development of public works, and closer cooperation among regulators to keep law compliance at investment grade levels thereby evaporating the euphemistic name for corruption as a "Latin American Cost."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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