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Beatrice Rangel remembers Nelson Mandela's visit to Caracas 22 years ago. (Photo: Government of Makana)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Perspectives

Remembering Nelson Mandela


The room was taken by the presence of a moral titan whose convictions and faith in the capacity of human beings to redeem themselves was being deployed to change the world.

BY BEATRICE E. RANGEL

Nelson Mandela entered the presidential office in Venezuela with the quietness of those who are in peace with themselves and the flame of curiosity in his eyes.

It was July the 27th 1991. The African leader was carrying out a Latin American tour that took him to Havana; Caracas; Mexico and Brasilia. He had begun a world tour just over a year from his liberation in February 1990 and was seeking support from the international community to bring his severed country together.

He understood that a clash between the undrained grievances of his people and the distrust and resentment of the white population could only lead to anarchy and civil war. He clearly said that he was on a mission to rebuild a falling structure without bringing it down. He indicated that his eyes were wide open to apprehend the ways and means created by other societies to resolve polarization and discrimination.

He expresses his belief in the transforming power of education and asked the President of Venezuela, Carlos Andres Perez whether education had been a factor in the fights for democracy in Latin America.

He described his role as one of an appeaser that needs to make a community understand that conflict is a losing strategy. He warned his host about the impact that inequality could bear upon future political development in the region. To his mind poverty could pose a threat to freedom once the poor “cease to believe.”  

Through the two hour interview the room was taken by the presence of a moral titan whose convictions and faith in the capacity of human beings to redeem themselves was being deployed to change the world.

To be sure, Mandela accomplished his dream, because his passage through power showcased a different and more enduring approach to leadership. Such leadership would emerge from exposing common weaknesses and turning them into societal strengths by bringing people together. His gospel was imbedded in his conduct, his dreams and in his demeanor, which was that of a master teacher. He was soft spoken but firm; he was endearing but outlying.

In short, Mandela  was a man who turned adversity into a cause for public service and success into  community joy.

In these days where most mortals seem to be destined to endure mediocre leadership he will be remembered as the last and perhaps the most marvelous of the great living myths.

Beatrice Rangel is CEO of AMLA Consulting Group, a business development advisory firm in Miami, and a former chief of staff of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. She wrote this column for Latinvex.

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