Dictators smother freedom in Latin America, speakers say (includes video story)

From Nicaragua to Venezuela to Cuba, strong man dictators have recently taken control of significant parts of Latin America. They arrest opposition leaders and smother debate. 

The dangers of populism in Latin America was the subject of an empowering conversation on market exchange and entrepreneurship yesterday at Florida International University. In both Spanish and English, speakers from across South America discussed the impact of freedom in human progress, lessons of liberty for the United States and the importance of immigration in the economy. 

The Adam Smith Center For Economic Freedom, the LIBRE Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), and the Atlas Society hosted the Future of Freedom in Latin America sponsored the event.

More than 30 FIU students and faculty learn how populism can be a psychological manipulation mechanism. The history of communism and socialism in countries such as Cuba, and the negative consequences of economic restrictions under which the regime has governed for 63 years, served as examples for the presentations. “Liberty is always one generation from being extinct,” said political scientist Gloria Alvarez, referring to how Cubans were deceived by Fidel Castro when the revolution triumphed.

On the other hand, countries with high levels of personal freedom also have high levels of economic freedom, according to an in-depth analysis presented by Ian Vásquez, who is the director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. “Progress is the result of innovation,” said Vásquez. 

Moreover, the United States’ founding fathers left the world a legacy of fighting for freedom, emphasizing Daniel Garza of the LIBRE Institute. “The cost to fight for freedom didn’t come for free. It came at a great cost of fortune and lives. And it is that freedom actually that leaches the vast capacities of people.”

During the Spanish part of the session, speakers such as Antonella Marty, associate director of the Center for American Studies at the Atlas Network and Cuban filmmaker Asiel Babastro stressed how freedom and art can combat totalitarianism.

Claudia Morales is a junior FIU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Communications/Broadcasting. She obtained an associates degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from Miami Dade College. She served as a photographer for The Reporter, the student newspaper at Miami Dade College. She also studied abroad in France and Italy, where she acquired knowledge about globalized media.