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Feature 020816 Toledo

Monday, February 8, 2016

Can Libertarianism Become Politically Significant in Mexico?

By Elena Toledo (PanAm Post)

Libertarian Project is an organization which works to spread the message of free enterprise and individual liberty in Mexico. Its president, Rafael Ruiz, spoke to the PanAm Post about how Mexican society has reacted to classical liberalism, and what Libertarian Project is doing to give and promote freedom.

What are the challenges for libertarianism in Mexico?

A challenge we are facing in Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, is that schools teach people that the state is necessary for our welfare. They also teach us to embrace patriotic values ​​that, at the end of the day, are generating a culture of dependence on the state. This is all very difficult to fight against.

There are some initiatives aiming to change this, but we believe that these are misguided, since they offer to replace state intervention, which they deem to be simply “wrong,” with anarchy and confrontation. Therefore, sometimes the idea that people have of a libertarian is generally negative. People tend to believe that a libertarian is a libertine who follows no rules and only cares about doing what he wants. Sometimes, libertarians are portrayed as revolutionaries who want to abolish the government overnight.

I think it is our responsibility to spread the libertarian message properly since it is a doctrine. It is a lifestyle that seeks to magnify the qualities of each human being in all their splendor, so that each individual can have a full, independent life, and develop personally.

Do you believe in getting involved in politics?

Yes, it is necessary for us as classical liberals or libertarians to engage in politics. As an organization, it is not our goal in the short or medium term, but we do believe that libertarian ideas must have an echo in politics. This is a gradual process, and we have to realize that, currently, political reality is far from what we really want. So entering politics is necessary.

On the other hand, it is important to integrate young people from different political parties to the ideas of liberty, regardless of their ideology or even if they do not subscribe to a particular ideology. When they reach public office, they will understand the importance of economic, individual, and social freedom.

In Mexico, there are already several initiatives aiming to get our country to know classical liberalism or libertarianism. This is how we plan to land fully on the political spectrum.

What do you think about drug legalization in Mexico?

The drug war is a tragedy that has affected several generations of Mexicans. The root of the problem is an attack on personal freedom of choice, and this leads to the creation of black markets and violence. Eventually, many young people grow up believing that being a drug trafficker is “cool.” This has disrupted every fiber of our society.

That also shows us that prohibition, far from solving this problem of public health, has worsened the situation. As long as there is a demand, there will be supply, often under dangerous, unsanitary and violent conditions. Therefore, we are in favor of drug legalization. If these substances enter the market freely, the drug business will not become a state monopoly, that is, a new business for certain politicians and their cronies.

Why has Mexican society adopted some libertarian initiatives, such as drug legalization or gay marriage?

The new generations are speaking. Our parents or grandparents may believe these things go against their morality; but most young people are adopting a libertarian attitude, perhaps unknowingly. They understand implicitly that everyone is responsible for their own lives.

But while the young may agree with laws that bring greater social liberty, in economic terms, they demand rigid labor markets with high degrees of employee protection and trade barriers with other countries. We, on the other hand, believe that younger Mexicans will eventually demand a greater amount of economic freedom as well.

Our long-term success depends on how we communicate our message. We represent a third option in politics since we break the traditional paradigm. If you are young and Mexican, you are expected to be either politically apathetic or to actively engage in extreme “revolutionary” acts. But now, libertarians are advocating for greater freedom so that people can realize their dreams without depending on the government or someone else’s charity.

We have to take advantage of our current opportunity and avoid being seen as idealists who wanted to change the world overnight without logical, real, or feasible ideas.

What projects does the Libertarian Project carry out in Mexico?

In this initial stage, we are promoting clear, tolerant messages in social networks. We also have our website, www.bloglibertario.com, where we have young contributors from countries like Argentina, Spain, Venezuela and, of course, Mexico. The interesting thing is that they write about what is happening in their countries from a young and libertarian perspective, so we disseminate the ideas of liberty from an academic discussion.

For the second phase, we plan to carry out field work in several states. We want to educate other young people about the meaning and importance of freedom. Everyone will not adopt the classical liberal or libertarian doctrine, but at least more people will have material to think about this new option in Mexican politics.

As the Libertarian Project, we believe that our work must be done in a friendly, simple, and humble way. We have to understand reality. We want to promote a society in which people who believe in liberty invite others to be free as well.

Translated by Rebeca Morla.

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This commentary, "Libertarianism, Mexico’s New Burgeoning Political Movement," was published in PanAm Post on Feb. 3, 2016, and reposted per a Creative Commons authorization.  Elena Toledo is an educator by trade, a social-media apprentice, and activist for a democratic Honduras.  Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.

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