As a quarter of the world gathered in celebration of Easter while still mourning the dead at the brutal terrorist attacks on Brussels, President Obama came back to a divided and vulnerable yet sturdy and resilient country.
His historic Latin American tour triggered the slow and irreversible collapse of the wall of deception established by the Castro regime on the wings of the Cold War.
For Cubans, it is now crystal clear that the Emperor of Revolution has no clothes.
He also relaunched relations with Latin America that had recently become distant, as populism reigned supreme in a significant region of our hemisphere.
In Cuba he flung a shock economic treatment that should earlier rather than later work the magic of putting the Castro dynasty to rest.
Indeed, should David Ricardo and his followers including Heckscher and Ohlin and later Rybczynski — whose findings were consecrated as economic theory on international trade — be right, open and unfettered trade is the best vehicle of change. Rybczynski clearly states that at constant relative prices (this means you are not in Venezuela but in Chile) a rise in the endowment of one factor will lead to a more than proportional expansion of the output in the sector which uses that factor intensively, and an absolute decline of the output of the other good.
Eventually, across both countries, market forces would return the system toward equality of production in regard to input prices such as wages.
This means that showering Cuba with trade will be the best weapon to destroy the rabid regime while making gains for the U.S. and the Latin American community in terms of trade creation.
Those that contend that this trade explosion will only benefit the regime, are assuming that the Cuban economy is about same size of that of the U.S., which truly is remarkable!! They also give the impression of believing that the government of Cuba is as effective and knowledgeable about trade management as Singapore.
In Argentina, the leader of the free world entombed the “it is our SOB” policies of the past through which the U.S. supported vicious dictatorships as a necessary part of U.S.S.R. containment.
President Obama’s conviviality with another head of state of his generation and the opportunity to discuss the region from the perspective of a nation that is far removed from any geopolitical weight in its relations with the U.S. provided him with a fresh and unprecedented view of America’s opportunities to build alliances and to escape misunderstandings in the region.
These feats however have short legs, as in order to run long they demand follow up and today the only assured thing in Washington is lack of clarity about the day after.
Indeed, neither President Obama nor any of his officials can be certain about their capacity to open new avenues for Latin American engagement.
To begin, President Obama is back into a divided country undergoing a process of further disunion as the most rancorous electoral fight proceeds.
Under such circumstances it will be virtually impossible for trade to explode in the direction of Cuba, thus making it difficult for the Rybczynski theorem to operate.
And while the President met dissidents in Havana, thereby codifying their status as main players in the Post-Cold War period, I frankly believe that much more needs to be done in this field.
Making them part of the human rights agenda discussion would spell gains for everyone.
For the U.S., it would have a civic ally inside Cuba; for the Cuban regime, it would launch a badly needed training in democratic demeanor that would improve its standing in the world; and to the dissidents, they would become more effective.
Sadly, this game changing trip has been undertaken in the midst of a divided country that — focused on its internecine fight — will fail to understand its immediate historic value. Thus it will also fail to capitalize on its merits or internalize its lessons.
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.