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Can Libertarians Become Relevant in Latin America?

At the cry of the defense for private property, low taxes and individual freedoms, libertarian thought begins to take center stage in the region .

Hands in fists pose and a megaphone

Resistance groups have re-emerged, which seek to defend the freedom of the market: the libertarians. Photo: Freepik

LatiAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Pueden los libertarios volverse relevantes en América Latina?

Unlike what happened during the first years of this century , Latin America no longer has a unifying political current . In other words, there are countries with leanings to the right, others towards populism (on both sides) and others towards socialism, so the scenario is quite diverse.

However, resistance groups have re-emerged, which seek to defend the freedom of the market: libertarians, who became more visible in the pandemic, when governments took measures that went against “individual rights” to promote population control. and avoid contagion.

With a great impact among young people, they seem to have greater momentum in populist economies, such as Mexico or Argentina, where they appear as the political party that seeks to break with the status quo. Many of them grew up with the “leftist” panorama of Latin America at the beginning of this century and, today, they seek to differentiate themselves from this model. Let's see why.

Libertarians and Latin America

Libertarians appear as an option that seeks to break the political system of Latin America soon, although we will have to wait a while to observe profound changes in the political system of the region . This ideology fights against the role of the State, which is key for countries with developing state-controlled economies.

This movement, which is not new on the world scene, has been insipid in the region. However, during the first two decades of this new millennium, Latin America was characterized by an interventionist economic turn in economic matters, but also progressive in terms of human rights. For example, the discussion of abortion laws, the environment, gender identity or feminist movements were very important in some countries, such as Chile, Brazil or Argentina.

Although not all libertarians are against these demonstrations, almost all agree on one thing: their financing should be avoided. While populist and socialist governments base their speeches on the free provision of some services, libertarians consider that certain measures are “theft”, since they are paid with taxpayers' money in an obligatory way. Hence, many say that evading taxes is a "patriotic act."

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This explains why libertarian groups within Latin America can be liberal as well as conservative: they seek to reduce the state to the minimum possible, since they do not believe in financing progressive social movements. From their perspectives, regardless of whether or not they adhere to the principles of the struggle, doing so would only increase the role and interference of the state, reduce the freedom of the private and generate meaningless public office.

A clear example occurs in Brazil, where the Mises Institute indicates that there is a “growing libertarian revolution”, which rejects all interventionist and socialist politicians in Brazil, to the point of not fully agreeing with Jair Bolsonaro, whom they do not define. as a libertarian, but only as a market-friendly conservative.

For this reason, not even all libertarians support governments characterized as right-wing, such as that of Bolsonaro, Piñera, Lacalle Pou or former President Mauricio Macri. All, in their own way, have continued with public financing policies , which have a common link: the issuance of the Central Bank, an “enemy” institution of this movement. From this perspective, it is the sole cause of inflation, which is conceived as a monetary phenomenon, phrase of the economist Milton Friedman.

All this can be seen on social networks, where some accounts of young libertarians spread economic concepts, opinions and theories, with great repercussion. However, when it comes to generating parties, they are unable to generate a stable army or broad visibility . For example, in the elections in Peru this year, candidate César Acuña, for Alianza para el Progreso Perú (the closest to the libertarian current in the country), only obtained 6.02% of the votes.

In Chile, on the other hand, an even more interesting situation occurs: they still do not have a defined political structure . The Libertarian Party of Chile defines itself on its own social networks and website as a "party in formation", which needs the support of those who adhere to this ideology in order to compete in elections and present candidates.

However, it depends on the existing candidates. For example, a Datoworld poll on the future legislative elections of Argentina in 2021, mentions that the libertarian force gained an enormous role and appears as third within the largest intention of votes. In this case, the figure of Javier Milei stands out enormously, who is also seen as one of the icons of this political current throughout Latin America.

The increased prominence of the libertarian group within Latin America comes as a radical response to the rejection of the populist and interventionist policies taken by the governments of the region in recent years. So far, these groups are popular on social media, but they don't seem to be highly represented at the polls.

We may not see a libertarian president anytime soon. However, if they make it to congresses, they can begin to create a legislative agenda and function as counterweights to the current political system.