By Beatrice E. Rangel
The 1970's popular British TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" depicted the trials of an aristocratic family and their household.
Viewers were invited to share the lives of two segments of British society: leaders and followers.
And as you dived into the convoluted life of residents of 165 Eaton Place in the posh neighborhood of Belgravia, the strengths of British civic culture became apparent as did the weaknesses derived from a society that had failed to spread technological advancements widely among its population.
Civic culture clearly is the nationhood catalyzer and the inspiration to sacrifice present wellbeing to build a better future for generations to come.
But civic culture also acts as a progress inhibiting factor in so far as it protects an uneven playing field for the privilege of those living Upstairs.
For those fortunate human beings life flows between business deals, political intrigues and failed love affairs.
Downstairs is all about getting ahead and securing a retirement place with a small garden and a view of the English countryside.
Upstairs everything is about competition.
Downstairs about solidarity.
The snapshots of these two segments of the British population while being a gross generalization of their behavioral patterns and motivations provide nevertheless grounds to describe what has prevented Latin America from attaining higher development levels.
Just as England's social fabric failed to detect the fundamental changes that were brewing in a world largely shaped and nursed by her technology explosion and trade policies, Latin America today fails to see the opportunity entailed in the U.S.'s inescapable industrial redeployment to leap frog growth stages.
These opportunities are basically found in the areas of energy and training.
The region's riches in wind and solar energy; rivers and waterfalls hydroelectric power and oil and gas could propel the southern border of Rio Grande into full fledge development in so far as these resources are used in the creation of a trade architecture that enhances Pacific exchanges while creating markets to U.S. platforms that are operated by artificial intelligence.
This would, of course, demand the trashing of the traditional mindset that seeks the establishment or preservation of competition-free areas that keep foreigners away while preserving rent extraction.
It would also demand heightened investments in training to develop digital skills in the youth and aptitudes that would lead them to create and transform software to satisfy the growing content revolution.
The third technology wave will wipe away the current establishment anyway but it would be less painful and trying for those living downstairs if the elites embraced change instead of clinging to current privileges.
Fortunately for the region there is a new generation about to take leadership of in most countries of Latin America.
These youngsters are far more attuned to the needs of the residents of the downstairs quarter.
They thus know that it is essential to liberate them from the destructive effects of paternalism and patronage by means of planting the seeds of entrepreneurship.
Being digitally born they also understand the value of training.
Most have also been part of an educational experience in the U.S. that stretches from summer camps to PHD programs.
Through them they came to learn that progress lies in the heart of the people who are the only source of wealth creation.
Interestingly enough this is a similar conclusion to that drawn many centuries ago by Alexis de Tocqueville: "Americans are taught from birth that they must overcome life's woes and impediments on their own. Social authority makes them mistrustful and anxious, and they rely upon its power only when they cannot do without it. This first becomes apparent in the schools, where children play by their own rules and punish infractions they define themselves. One encounters the same spirit in all aspects of social life. An obstruction blocks a public road, interrupting the flow of traffic. The neighbors immediately set up a deliberative body. Out of this improvised assembly comes an executive power that will remedy the ill before it occurs to anyone to appeal to an authority."
In short, the new generation's leadership task entails moving the Latin Americans from the downstairs to the upstairs quarters.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 seriesBeatrice Rangel: Rio -- Demystifying the Olympic Games
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