The past two weeks have brought plenty reasons to be optimistic about Latin America and to a certain degree Europe.
Two young figures have emerged as role models of two different generations that have faced the same never-ending dilemma: how can freedom be preserved?
And both stepped forward to face the challenge right on.
One succeeded in becoming the new leader of France, the other died under the grip of the most ferocious dictatorial repression ever to be exerted in Latin America.
Emmanuel Macron has been throughout his life a child prodigy.
From primary school to the Lycee Henry IV no one could seriously entertain the idea of surpassing him as a star-studded student.
At Ecole Nationale d’Administration — the bureaucratic elite crib and training ground for successful politicians — Macron excelled as a student, colleague and trainer for other students.
He then became a Supervisor at the French IRS where he learned to detect tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Again, he left his mark at the service as he pushed for greater automatization of procedures.
He became an investment banker at Rothschild and Cie where he acquired a global vision.
He was a member of the Socialist Party when appointed Minister for the Economy by Francois Hollande.
Macron took the post with the aim to conduct a much-needed institutional reform to create a more business-friendly economic environment.
As his reforms were sabotaged by the left and the right, Macron resigned to jump on the electoral waters once it was clear to him and to everyone in France that citizens were about to put their lot in the hands of Marine Le Pen in order to show disgust with traditional political parties and their leadership.
His political movement “En Marche!” was created September 2016 and now has over 200,000 members who follow their leader passionately.
Macron, in short, rose to the challenge and pushed France into the future when it was about to fall prey to an ugly past. With his strong support base enhanced by Republicans and Socialists, Macron was propelled into the Élysée Palace.
Miguel Castillo was too young to die.
But totalitarianism does not forgive dissent.
Miguel had excelled as a student at the Jesuit school San Ignacio, where he graduated in 2008. He then went on to study journalism.
Miguel was always ready to support fellow students that felt left behind. He was an enthusiastic participant in extracurricular activities that took him to the slums of Caracas to teach destitute youngsters. He had a flair for making fun of himself and friends. He was planning to get a master’s degree.
But he also felt that his dream of working as a publisher was never going to come to fruition under the totalitarian regime suffocating Venezuela. He knew that to have a future, the present needed to be shattered.
And he enthusiastically participated in every single protest march for 36 days until the bullet of hatred nested in his chest exploding his dreams.
Miguel, as Macron did, knew there was something profoundly wrong about the way his country was being ruled and decided to do something about. He paid his country the greatest tribute: surrendering his life in search of her redemption. For all those who loved him he has left a trail to follow: that of never comprising principles in the fight for freedom.
These two lives fill our hearts and minds with optimism.
In France, the people clearly chose the right path to change.
Faced with astounding decay in the institutional framework and needs to let change in, the French people searched and found the most able leader for the circumstances.
Faced with similar dilemma, the Venezuelan people made at the dawn of the 20th century the most inappropriate choice.
But that same people has produced a Millennial generation that is set out to rebuild the country from the ashes of corporativism and rent extraction even at the cost of their lives.
Published by LAHT.COM on Monday May 15th, 2017.