Castro and the Virtues of Propriety

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel takes a look at the gushing and fawning over Fidel Castro.

The Brits have branded a virtue that raises envy throughout the world while bringing them much happiness.

Propriety — the British differentiating attribute — is essentially the condition of being right, appropriate, or fitting.

Should propriety be spread throughout the world many conflicts could be avoided while humans would be much happier as they would be treated with dignity and care by their fellows.

But propriety along with common sense are the scarcest resources in the world.

Should you disagree, I invite you to read statements made by world leaders on the occasion of Fidel Castro’s passing.

Except for those issued by European chanceries, most lacked propriety, as they were either panegyrist or damming. None of these far apart positions fit the circumstances.

As a consequence, the significance of the event for the future of Cuba and — to certain degree Latin America — was truly obscured would it not be for the extraordinary analysis by Niall Ferguson, Enrique Krause, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Tom Friedman. All of them elevated propriety to its highest intellectual dimension.

Unfortunately for ECLAC, the revered United Nations body founded by Raul Presbish, they are not in the correct category.

A very proper gentleman, Prebish, and followed by many economic thinkers on account of its superb research pieces which have contributed to further the understanding of under development worldwide.

It was thus expected from its head to contribute to the ongoing economic debate by means of presenting an analysis of economic achievements and failures attributed to the deceased leader.

Instead we got from Alicia Barcena, ECLAC’s director, a socialist slogan befitting a communist party rally in the 1970s.

Indeed not even today will the last standing communist party — that of China — resort to socialist slogans to raise the support of its followers.

On the contrary, most communist party congresses in China are devoted to such bourgeois concerns as productivity, aggregate demand and consolidation of middle classes.

This resembles the full circle turn effected by Raul Prebisch, ECLAC’s founder, when he revised his theory on industrialization through import substitution.

After three decades of structuralism without any signs of improvement in the economies of those countries whose public policies where inspired by this theory, Prebisch engaged in a revision.

The revision proved many structuralists’ underlying assumptions wrong. These include the price differential between commodities and manufactured goods which had been attributable to an extractive design by power entities in the industrialized world.

Running counter to this explanation was the existence of a value chain incorporated into manufactured goods which was simply absent from raw materials.

The second assumption which also proved to be wrong was that attributing beneficial development properties to import substitution. Reality proved this development strategy to be unachievable by small markets that could never reach economies of scale.

Without scale, production costs would be so high that most goods would be unaffordable.

Trade, on the contrary, particularly unfettered and well directed by local authorities could transform nations into economic emporiums. These revised views on development were refused by Fidel Castro. Which makes Ms. Barcena’s statement even more confusing. Maybe she needs to go back to ECLAC’s roots.

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
Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Sunday December 4th, 2016