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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: A Hemispheric March of Folly
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel

By Beatrice E. Rangel

In 1984 Barbara Tuchman, an American historian and author wrote the award-winning book” The March of Folly” .

Ms. Tuchman set out to demonstrate in her wonderfully written work how elites can take public policy decisions that boomerang to destroy their power base and that of the community they are supposed to lead.

To her mind, these ill-taken decisions could be attributable to three variables. The first was “wooden headedness” or as professor Yehezkel Dror would dub “the Ivory Castle Syndrome”.

Cognitive dissonance is yet another ingredient for folly. Cognitive dissonance is the leadership unwillingness to listen to facts.

Last and very important, ignorance of previous history can also drive decision makers to wrong decisions.

A cursory review of headlines for the third week of July 2017 would make one wonder whether we had entered the March of Folly Celebration Year. No matter where we looked in the Hemisphere, policy makers were following the Tuchman script.

First and utmost of course is the President of Venezuela who engaged the opposition leaders in a game of chicken that is multiplying their following. He convened a National Constitutional Assembly with a view to rewrite the Constitution and do away with separation of powers and democratic institutions.

The move has caused the first true and visible divisions within the ranks of the government party.

It has cracked the institutional tissues as the Prosecutor General indicated that the measure failed to fulfill constitutional procedures.

The decision has also had the effect of destroying overnight any legitimacy that Mr. Maduro might have had arising from the fact that he is an elected official.

Internationally this has revealed his true dictatorial colors and invited a chaotic U.S. administration to threaten with adopting economic sanctions that will send Mr. Maduro to Dante’s Inferno. Mr. Maduro nonetheless is obstinately marching towards his funeral to the tune of a march he composed.

In the northern region of the hemisphere, folly is also reigning supreme.

Republicans have -- with a zeal that one would love to see deployed in educational reforms or development of training opportunities for people to become digitally fluent -- crusaded to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA-Obamacare) despite the drawbacks of this decision.

Among the most notable failings of the Republican project is the fact that no matter how you do the math, their hastily concocted bill would leave between 26 million and 32 million people without coverage. Notably among those are the inhabitants from the Rust Belt that massively voted for President Trump.

Many of these citizens had been shunned by the insurance market before ACA was passed because of “pre-existing conditions” (read: black lung disease). Now they have access to health insurance and at affordable premiums.

Next in line are those suffering from opioids addiction which affects the lower income, lower education, white population who also voted massively for President Trump. These people will be left out of the insurance market because Medicaid will not cover them.

Next come cancer patients of all ages, income levels, races and political persuasions. All these people will either not be able to buy insurance or will be denied insurance.

And as the affected population took it to Capitol Hill to express their discontent, Republican leaders indicated that these people had been mobilized by the democrats who mostly were seating on bleachers to enjoy a show that will turn into plump political dividends for them next year.

Wooden headed Republicans refuse in their Tea Party paroxysms to accept simple facts such as that the democrats are enjoying the ride and that the U.S. citizens would rather see Obamacare fixed than repealed.

And fixing it is rather easy as it only would take to allow insurance companies to cover all the U.S. territory en lieu of regions.

Also, to insure the insurers, which means extending the reinsurance program that protected the ACA health plans from 2014-16.

Next it would be necessary to relax the rules along the lines of directives already issued by the Health and Human Services Department which give insurers more flexibility to offer slightly more generous plans while closing loopholes they thought consumers were using to game the system.

Finally, it is essential to rein in the drug companies that are driving insurance costs to the roof. This would guarantee Republicans and president Trump reelection. But it seems as they would rather be sacked in 2018 and 2020.

Finally, there is Mexico.

Mexican lawmakers on July 19 missed a one-year deadline for creating new anticorruption rules and appointing a corruption prosecutor, with the country's main political parties blaming each other for missing the deadline.

In a country where the Mexican cost of the euphemistic name of corruption is about 20% of fixed costs, to miss the deadline gives the world a very clear indication of where the heart of Mexican politicians lies.

They however do not seem to realize that the curtain is up and the public has ceased to believe in their civic wisdom. As a result, the Mexicans might be in the search for an independent that has no links to political parties. The Venezuelans tried that in 1998 with the dire consequences we have now endured.

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

Beatrice Rangel: Rio -- Demystifying the Olympic Games

Beatrice Rangel: The Luddite Syndrome in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Venezuela's Unexpected Transition

Beatrice Rangel: We Now Have a Wider Canal But Has Our Wisdom Expanded???

Beatrice Rangel: From Brexit to Tesla, Progress is Made by Leaders!!!

Beatrice Rangel: As the World Goes Latin, Latin America Gets Logical

Beatrice Rangel: On the Difficulties of Fighting Barbarism in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: The Impending Age of Housekeeping!!!!

Beatrice Rangel: What Happened to All Those Rosy Forecasts for Latin America?

Beatrice Rangel: On Dialogue and the Rules of Geopolitics in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: The Ides of Wisdom in Venezuela

Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Populism

Beatrice Rangel: Three Ladies in Distress

Beatrice Rangel: Trump, Lula, Kirchner and the Last Tupi-Guaranis

Beatrice Rangel: Time for Departures in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: A Contrarian View on the Panama Papers

Beatrice Rangel: Brazil's Lady in Her Labyrinth

Beatrice Rangel: Back to a Divided Home!!!

Beatrice Rangel: A Historical Take-Off in the Americas??

Beatrice Rangel: A Skipped Journey, a Reaffirmation and a Clearing of Path in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: The Demise of Civility in the Americas!!

Beatrice Rangel: The Americas from Boutros Boutros-Ghali to Ban Ki Moon

Beatrice Rangel: The Pope's Difficult Stopover in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Farewell to The “Diplomacy of Reason”

Beatrice Rangel: 2 Diseases in Latin America -- Different Prescriptions, Very Different Outcomes

Beatrice Rangel: On Health Alerts and the Long Arm of Justice in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: When Crime Meets Glory

Beatrice Rangel: Playing Hansel and Gretel in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Good News/Bad News Starts The Monkey Leap Year

Beatrice Rangel: The Gifts of Christmas!!!!!!

Beatrice Rangel: Crying Wolf in Venezuela

Beatrice Rangel: A 21st Century Tale of Two Cities

Beatrice Rangel: Are the Americas Ready for President Trump?

Beatrice Rangel: On Predictions of War & Global Confusion

Beatrice Rangel: Paris and the Return of Fear

Beatrice Rangel: Marijuana & Latin America's Next Trade Corridor

Beatrice Rangel: Of Burning Airplanes & Argentinean Tsunamis

Beatrice Rangel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Americas!!

Beatrice Rangel: Buena Vista's Magic Covers the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Pride and Perjury in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Trompe L’oeils Proliferate in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: The Economic Consequences of Peace in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: Colombia, the FARC & the Makings of Gangland in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: When Extreme Weather Meets Extreme Politics Calamities are Bound to Happen

Beatrice Rangel: When Ladies Hit 70

Beatrice Rangel: About Uninformed Elites and Gullible Leaders

Beatrice Rangel: On US-Engineered Soft Landings in Cuba and Venezuela

Beatrice Rangel: On the Many Ways Cecil Matters

Beatrice Rangel: Blue Moons Lead to Extraordinary Happenings in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: On Why Embassy Openings Do Not Necessarily Herald Different Policies

Beatrice Rangel: When Jupiter meets Venus

Beatrice Rangel: When Markets and Manners Crash

Beatrice Rangel: From Grexit to Exit, Contagion is in the Air

Beatrice Rangel: An Infuriated God & An Environmental Crusader Mark the Summer Solstice

Beatrice Rangel: Between Ionesco & the Falklands Syndrome

Beatrice Rangel: The Ugly Americas

Beatrice Rangel: How FIFA Corrupted the Beautiful Game in the Americas and World

Beatrice Rangel: Could the US RICO Act Be Applied to Latin America?

Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Commodities for Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: The End of the Chinese Free Lunch in the Americas!!

Beatrice Rangel: The Crooked Twig of Democracy in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Of a White Knight for Three Latin American Ladies in Distress

Beatrice Rangel: Withdrawal Symptoms?

Beatrice Rangel: The Un-Mannered Summit

Beatrice Rangel: Easter Miracles in Latin America and the World

Beatrice Rangel: Two Islands, Two Legacies & One Challenge - Modernity

Beatrice Rangel: Killing Me Softly -- the Obama Administration’s Legacy in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: Of Upcoming Dynasties and Exhausted Ideas in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: Of Thunderous Silences, Quiet Noises and Flash Backs in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: Latin America's Dangerous Exports to Europe & the Demise of an Old Fox

Beatrice Rangel: Of Sweet Deals, Sugar Daddies, Direct Mail & Obama’s Care

Beatrice Rangel: Of Latin American Singing Birds, Femme Fatales & Empty Shelves

Beatrice Rangel: When Flying Dragons & Rage Infusions Turn Against Their Latin American Masters

Beatrice Rangel: Holy Haberdashery!!! Is Fire Building Under the Surface in the Americas??

Beatrice Rangel: 2015 -- A Year for Balance in the Americas???

Beatrice Rangel: Pope Francis Looks at the Americas In His Christmas Remarks

Beatrice Rangel: The Paint Brush Hanging from the Wall in Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: A Future for the Americas??

Beatrice Rangel: Going Forward, Going Backward -- It's the Americas!!

Beatrice Rangel: An Eerily Familiar Week in the Americas

Beatrice Rangel: Tale of Two Walls

Beatrice Rangel: Across the Americas, We the PEOPLE

Beatrice Rangel: Across Latin America, The Populist Beat Goes On!!

Beatrice Rangel: Oh My, The Patron of the Eternal Feminine Has Left Us!!!

Beatrice Rangel: Communism from China to Cuba Finds Corruption!!!

Beatrice Rangel: From Rio to Hong Kong Discontent Taps the East to Find a New Way

Beatrice Rangel: Will Latin America Miss the Broadband Development Target?

Beatrice Rangel: Kissinger’s World Order and Latin America

Beatrice Rangel: The Third Attempt -- Will Modernity Prevail in Latin America?

Rangel: While US is Away, Latin America Rethinks Development Paths

Rangel: In the Midst of Riots, a Star is Born in Brazil

Rangel: In Mexico Cinderella Gets to the Ball while Colombia Gets a Chance at Peace


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