From Notre Dame to Venezuela: the world weeps
By Beatrice E Rangel
I must confess that I was one among those thousands of people who cried at the scene of Notre Dame in flames. And given that I was born and raised in Venezuela I decided to search my soul for the meaning of such sorrow. After all I have been weeping for Venezuela for at least ten years when its was unquestionably evident that the country was on its way to remake the Cuban experience. As current humanitarian tragedy has progresses tears are part of my daily routine. So, the ravage by fire of the world’s most important building from gothic times made little sense. But once you examine the unfolding of the 21st century you begin to understand why Notre Dame matter so much.
This century has taken the world over like a perfect storm which brings together adverse meteorological factors to produce mayhem. As a perfect storm few see it coming as the triggering factor develop individually and separately from each other. Each of these factors is not dangerous individually but when they share time and geography produce disastrous outcomes. This is the story of digitalization; globalization and technology pervasiveness in economic evolution.
The Cold War gave rise to a competition for supremacy in offensive and defensive weapons that led the two existing super powers (US and USSR) to trigger innovation storms throughout the world. The result was a quantic jump in storage, processing and distribution of information that took over economic activity from the 1980s on and that has wiped out consumption and production patterns anchored to the manufacturing age. The result has been the mismatch between education and skill sets needed to access productive jobs; between consumption aspirations and access capacity; between vision and attainment, between education and access to self-fulfilling jobs . This transformation found the world under the leadership of the baby boomers the most papered and consequentially self-centered generation the world has ever had.
The free world thus lacked a Sherpa to lead people through the digital storm. There indeed were no Churchill, De Gaulle, Eisenhower or Kennedy in charge who held highly the principles of devoted public service and adherence to the common good.. As a result, people began to see change with fear and suspicion. Take France for instance. The proud home of the Gaul today is about half African as political chaos in Africa and the Middle East have triggered waves of immigration. The proud and most self-centered country in the Western World has to share now its geography with people that fail to appreciate its long-standing cultural tradition; the superb management of style; the refined approach to design and the beauty of a language that produced the most memorable pieces of universal literature.
And this is happening in their home without warning or preparedness. They are virtually bombed everyday with information bites originating from millions of mobile phones that announce more economic stagnation more unemployment and less predictability. For them life flows like a stream that goes to the sea to be lost in the ocean where it becomes unidentifiable and lost. They thus cling to those symbols that represent assurance; strength; resilience and perpetuity. And that is what Notre Dame symbolizes. The realization that Notre Dame could succumb brought down the last thread of national pride. The people of France are now left without the spiritual support of an endurance symbol.
From the perspective of a Venezuelan in exile Notre Dame’s fire reminded the continuing tragedy of a country that has gone through destruction one time too many since Columbus visited its coasts. Indeed, Venezuela has seen its dreams of development burn in through the centuries from its preeminence as a pearl producer to today’s world oil reservoir passing through cocoa supreme sovereign and coffee power. To see Notre Dame in flames is to go through the sorrow of seeing Venezuela burning once again without been able to predict when the current drama that takes 250 lives on a monthly basis is going to end.
Published by LAHT.com on Monday, April 22nd 2019
*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*
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.