September 7, 2014 Print

The Berlin Wall was a physical and symbolic representation of the barriers between the free world and authoritarian control. When it came down 25 years ago, millions of people suddenly had the freedom to live their lives as they wanted to.

Similar walls — both physical and symbolic — still exist all over the world. They may feel permanent to those living on the other side. But Atlas Network’s partners are in the business of tearing down today’s Berlin Walls. Here are three examples of what Atlas Network partners are doing to increase freedom in Venezuela, Canada and Poland. 

In Venezuela, the ruling socialist regime is bleeding the life from this once-wealthy country. Its tactics are familiar: censoring the media, fostering class war, and constantly attacking private property rights.

But an opposition movement led by young people and students who want freedom has grown and will not be silenced. It receives its intellectual energy from Atlas Network partner, CEDICE, ranked in an independent study by the University of Pennsylvania as the most effective think tank in Latin America. 

In Canada, 1.4 million Aboriginals face special barriers to opportunity. Institutionalized systems of paternalism have destroyed Aboriginal communities that face unemployment rates of 75 percent of more. Life expectancy is a full decade shorter than for other Canadians.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute has partnered with 650 First Nations chiefs in Canada to advocate for reforms to unlock natural resources for development, integrate Aboriginal businesspeople into a booming energy market, and destroy negative stereotypes in the process.

And in Poland, the government has recently seized over $48 billion from its citizens’ private pension accounts to address a short-term fiscal imbalance. The disregard for property rights sets a disturbing precedent; and the move makes Poland more vulnerable to the long-term problem of an unaffordable welfare state. 

FOR (The Civil Development Forum) has played a leadership role in turning public opinion against the plan. And it is and waking up those in other Eastern European countries to the dangers of nationalizing private pensions. 

All over the world, Atlas Network partners are working to tear down barriers to freedom.

What are some of today’s Berlin Walls that exist in your city, state and country? Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TodaysBerlinWalls.