Helio Beltrao of Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil, Lucía Vázquez Ger of Fundación para el Progreso), and Dora de Ampuero of Instituto Ecuatoriano de Economía Política in Ecuador.
Countries throughout Latin America face unique policy environments, but their strategies for protecting liberty are widely applicable. The annual Latin America Liberty Forum, held this year on May 3–4 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, provided an opportunity to share and celebrate the best ideas and accomplishments of Atlas Network partners throughout the region. This year’s Latin America Liberty Awards honored work from Instituto de Estudos Empresariais in Brazil for its 29-year Liberty Forum, Fundación Eléutera in Honduras for its success in reforming tax and business regulations, and Centro de Divulgacion del Conocimiento Economico para la Libertad (CEDICE Freedom) in Venezuela for its Watchdog for Freedom and Democracy.
Giancarlo Ibárgüen Freedom Award
Rocio Guijarro Saucedo, the long-time leader of CEDICE Freedom, was also presented with the Giancarlo Ibárgüen Freedom Award, a prize given by the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research (HACER) that is designed to incentivize work that promotes personal liberty in a way that is consistent with human dignity. Ibárgüen, who passed away in March 2016, was an exemplary leader in the freedom movement for decades, with Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) in Guatemala, Liberty Fund, the Mont Pelerin Society, and much more, and the award represents his unparalleled generosity, accepting spirit, openness toward innovation, penchant for discovery, and tireless, optimistic work in the face every challenge.
Giannina Raffo of CEDICE in Venezuela, Rocio Guijarro Saucedo of CEDICE, and Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen.
“Rocio Guijarro Saucedo has devoted most of her professional life to promote the free society,” said Alex Chafuen, Atlas Network’s president. “She has been the general manager of CEDICE Freedom during most of its history, leading it with courage, principle, and determination. Understanding the need that one can’t give what one does not have, she has attended and continues to attend relevant courses to improve her management talents and techniques. In addition to taking part in Atlas Network training programs, with her first long-term fellowships during the early ‘90s, she honed her skills at Instituto de Estudios Avanzados in Venezuela, Central American Institute of Business Administration in Costa Rica, and other programs in the United States.”
Chafuen also lauded Guijarro’s unflagging spirit in promoting freedom, in the spirit of the award’s namesake.
“Like Giancarlo Ibárgüen, she never lost her optimism for the cause of the free society,” Chafuen continued. “She has always been open to the many diverse philosophical currents that nurture classical liberalism, and she has always been supportive of the staff she manages given them opportunities to grow and develop new projects. Atlas trustee Lúis Henrique Ball, who for many years was a CEDICE trustee, writes, ‘Rocío has bravely faced persecution in her native Venezuela, and over the years has become a leading figure in the grass roots movement that is now fighting for democracy. The Venezuelan student movement has honored her as one of their own.’ Recently, one of the leading networks of policy-oriented free-market think tanks in Latin America, RELIAL, appointed her as the new president. Her example inspires all who work for freedom around the world. Giancarlo would have been extremely happy that she won the 2017 HACER Freedom Award that bears his name.”
The Latin America Liberty Awards also recognized three think tanks for their outstanding work.
Juan Carlos Cachanosky Award for Dissemination of the Principles of a Free Society
For its longstanding Forum da Liberdade (Liberty Forum), which was originally launched in 1988, Instituto de Estudos Empresariais in Brazil was awarded the Juan Carlos Cachanosky Award for Dissemination of the Principles of a Free Society. The forum stages debates that explore how best to solve the region’s problems, and is expanding its scope to include a workshop on entrepreneurship in order to help support the promotion of ideas with practical social and economic impact. The Forum da Liberdade has influenced government policy in Brazil during the last three decades through its advice to political leaders, and student involvement in the forum has led to the creation of new organizations, such as Instituto Atlantos.
Miguel Kast Award for Free-Market Solutions to Poverty
Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen, Guillermo Peña Panting of Fundación Eléutera in Honduras, and Jorge Colindres of Fundacion Eleutera.
Fundación Eléutera has had substantial success in reforming tax and business regulations in Honduras, which garnered the organization the Miguel Kast Award for Free-Market Solutions to Poverty. When Honduras passed a new tax code in 2016, it incorporated 14 of the 20 proposals made by Fundación Eléutera, helping protect the due process rights of more than 2 million registered taxpayers. The organization’s “My Company Online” (Mi Empresa En Línea) program led to the passage of reforms that established a simple procedure for creating a business, through either an online platform or a paper form; eliminated the need to provide notification to the tax administration; and allowed the use of digital platforms for archiving accounting records and shareholder meeting minutes. Now anybody can create a legal business entity in a single day for less than US$45.
Francisco de Vitoria Award for Ethics and Values
The Watchdog for Freedom and Democracy in Venezuela is a project by CEDICE Freedom is a civil society observatory that won the Francisco de Vitoria Award for Ethics and Values. By monitoring high government spending, private property violations, abuses of individual rights in Venezuela, the Watchdog for Freedom and Democracy provides a vehicle to alert citizens and instill a public conscience regarding their freedom. The watchdog program contains an economic-legislative observatory, which contributes to improving the democratic dialogue in Venezuela and analyzes the impact of economic regulations; a property rights observatory, which identifies and categorizes every type of violation against private property in Venezuela; and a public expenditure observatory, which aims to improve transparency and quality of information in the disclosure of government spending. CEDICE Freedom’s watchdog program has trained more than 1,500 people in its workshops, including 53 members of the National Assembly and 31 councillors and mayors. It has also generated significant legislator interest in its “Organic Law of Promotion and Defense of the Private Property” proposal, and attracted more than 3,500 media hits despite widespread government media control.
Delving into ideas and strategy
Dr. Tom G. Palmer, Atlas Network’s George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty and executive vice president for international programs, speaks about the dangers of crony capitalism.
The two days of Latin America Liberty Forum programming included a wide array of breakout sessions and workshops on rethinking education policy, lessons from think tank entrepreneurs, how universities can promote freedom more effectively, the threat that crony capitalism poses to liberty, a pro-liberty response to populism, how to involve the business community in promoting economic reforms, organizational leadership and fundraising strategies, speed networking, a “Crowdsourcing Freedom Incubator,” and much more.
Lucía Vázquez Ger of Fundación para el Progreso in Chile, Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen, Surse Pierpoint of Fundación Libertad in Panama, and Guillermo Peña Panting of Fundación Eléutera in Honduras.
Speakers, panelists, and moderators included Atlas Network’s own Alex Chafuen, Tom G. Palmer, Matt Warner, and Elisa Bishop, as well as Walter Castro and Gerardo Bongiovanni of Fundacion Libertad in Argentina, Hernán Luis Bonilla Blanco of Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo in Uruguay, Helio Beltrão of Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil, Axel Kaiser and Nicolás Ibáñez of Fundación para el Progreso in Chile, Eliana M. Santanatoglia of Fundación Instituto David Hume in Argentina, José Beteta of Contribuyentes por Respeto in Peru, Bettina Horst of Libertad y Desarrollo in Chile, Gonzalo Schwarz of the Archbridge Institute in Virginia, Fr. Gustavo Irrazabal and Cecilia Vázquez Ger of Instituto Acton in Argentina, Ricardo Peirano of Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Economica y Social (CERES) in Uruguay, Agustín Etchebarne of Libertad y Progreso in Argentina, Surse Pierpoint of Fundación Libertad in Panama, Ernesto Selman of Centro Regional de Estrategias Económicas Sostenibles (CREES) in the Dominican Republic, Eduardo Marty of Junior Achievement of Argentina, and many other leaders in business, government, and civil society throughout Latin America.
“In Latin America, we need to not only fight for liberty — which we have done and will continue to do — but we also need to promote progress,” said Nicolás Ibáñez, chairman of the board of Fundación Para el Progreso in Chile, during his keynote luncheon remarks. “And we must do it before the train passes us by and we miss the opportunities we have to succeed in the world today. And we must do this through academia, the media, and think tanks. … As businessmen, we need to work on these issues not only to improve our image in society but because it’s the right thing to do, to fight for something even if the results aren’t immediate and even if we don’t see them in our lifetime. Philanthropy isn’t a hobby or pastime, it’s a responsibility.”
Gonzalo Schwarz, founder and president of the Archbridge Institute in Virginia, moderates a workshop.
Think Tank Shark Tank – Latin America
The Thursday afternoon program included a Think Tank Shark Tank – Latin America competition, in which innovative new think tank projects compete for funding before a panel of esteemed judges. This year, Jorge Colindres, legal director for Fundación Eléutera in Honduras, won for his “Access to Justice for All” project pitch.
“Access to justice affects a person's dignity directly,” Colindres said. “Not only is it essential in safeguarding the rule of law, but it is also key in promoting economic growth and social mobility.”
Other Think Tank Shark Tank – Latin America competitors included José Beteta, director general of Contribuyentes por Respeto in Peru, with his “Voices for Health” pitch; and Ernesto Selman, vice president of CREES in the Dominican Republic, with a “Freedom Seminar” proposal.
“Our project will empower leaders in civil society with the ideas to advance liberty and freedom, in a moment when the people are demanding changes in the streets,” Selman said. “The time is now!”
The future of Latin America
Mario Vargas Llosa, the famed Peruvian Nobel laureate in literature, provided welcoming remarks at the Thursday luncheon, as well as speaking at a special dinner held after the afternoon sessions ended.
Giannina Raffo of CEDICE Freedom, Peruvian Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa (second from right), and Rocio Guijarro Saucedo of CEDICE Freedom.
“Despite the situation in Venezuela, we should not be pessimistic about the future of Latin America,” Llosa said in his concluding remarks (translated from Spanish). “If we do the math, it's clear that the region is better off than it was in decades past. … I think that the future of Latin America is shaping up every day to be more and more like the future we all dreamed about, a continent of freedom and democracy where individuals and families can reach their dreams.”
Llosa also praised Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen for his decades of work promoting liberty in Latin America.
“Alejandro Chafuen will be remembered in the future as one of the most important fighters for the freedom of Latin America,” Llosa said.
Dr. Tom G. Palmer, Atlas Network’s George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty and executive vice president for international programs.