becoming more Popular in Costa Rica Controlling 10% of Congress
September 2nd 2005
San Juan, Costa
Rica—Imagine a US Congress with 10% Libertarians. The latest news is
how they’ve cut taxes, stamped out incipient terrorism while
squashing proposals to military action, and are moving to fight
corruption in immigration that no one talked about for years in the
other parties. The country’s prestige is at a new high. New
Hampshire has announced it’s studying legislation to enable
governmentless Libertarian communities because they’re good for
tourism. And even non-Libertarians say they’re doing a good job,
offering intriguing less-government alternatives and keeping other
parties on their toes. Why, just like Costa Rica, people say.
Oh, and most of the
Libertarian leaders are Black or belong to other minorities.
Compare this to
today, where the Libertarians in North Carolina struggle to keep
their party recognized under that state’s draconian ballot laws.
It’s easy to speculate why the other parties are attempting to
The major parties
may not want another Costa Rica Libertarian Movement, or Movimiento
). In that country, Libertarians have 10% of the legislature, are
moving to more local positions, and are treated as business as
usual. But it may just be a matter of time.
advocate voluntary solutions and individual rights, and support more
tolerance, more free enterprise and ever-diminishing government.
Costa Rica certainly has a few less government attitudes that would
seem like hopeless idealism to many people in the US.. It has no
military hence no military coups or budget to worry about, yet plays
a strong role in international affairs through active diplomacy.
People can get many drugs without a prescription after consultation
with their pharmacist. Immigrants are welcomed with open arms with
a system encouraging economic self-sufficiency that is a marvel of
simplicity compared to US regulations. It has proportional voting
and few ballot requirements, making it far more democratic in
engaging different political than the US.
in the US wage what looks like a complex chess game rolling back
election laws often specifically designed to keep them out,
Libertarianism has taken off in the tolerant “Central American
Switzerland” like El Cid riding to the rescue. Libertarians there
control 10 % of the Congress, occupy influential positions, and
over 70% of the country thinks they’re doing a good job according
to newspaper surveys. When a Libertarian international group met
there some years back, the country’s President made the welcome
Any political party
could probably learn from the Costa Rican Libertarians, who admit
they started off by learning from the US Libertarian’s mistakes and
less well known but impressive successes.
ANARCHISTS WITH GANNT CHARTS
which says people would benefit with an array of alternatives
ranging from devolution to local government and classical anarchist
communities, is looked at as something of a tough sell in politics.
It has no ready-made constituency except everyone’s interest in
their own individual rights, and in many ways is more a political
technology. So the growth is all the more fascinating as until a few
years ago, there was only a small Libertarian study group in the
country. Local Libertarians contacted Libertarian groups such as the
International Society for Individual Liberty and the Libertarian
International Organization (LIO) to get ideas. “We had just finished
a best practices study and basically gave them two lists,” said
Ralph Swanson, and LIO Board member. “We said do simple boring cheap
stuff on list A and don’t do the tempting glitzy expensive stuff on
list B. We basically had found that US Libertarian groups that
focused on education on uncompromising application of Libertarian
principle and door-to-door legwork and coalition activism did well,
while those that attempted to dilute their message and imitate the
campaign styles of the Republicans and Democrats shot themselves in
the foot. Next thing we knew they were doing great, and when we
checked up they said, ‘Well, we followed list A.’ ”
Otto Guevara Guth,
a former Costa Rican Congressman who leads the Costa Rican group,
put it more bluntly. ”When I first heard about Libertarianism, I
said what in the world is this? Are these people nuts? Like most
people I assumed that if government wasn’t making people do it, then
it wasn’t being done, and so you had to accept a lot of regulation.
Then here are Libertarians saying government is actually the
problem, and we should just handle everything by private groups with
just one rule: respect individual rights. As I saw the
possibilities and saw that this stuff worked, I realized we had a
chance for a movement able to think long term but have plenty of
immediate projects to get public support.”
List A had some
unusual conclusions, reflected in the Movimiento’s approach. It
suggested things such as dividing adherents into speaker, political
and other personality types; developing a radical no-government
message with detailed transition items; and outreach through
personal networks. Training was emphasized, and a good part of the
Costa Rican site deals in philosophy. Yet as they crusade to
dismantle the government and replace its programs with voluntary
groups and alternatives, they also put a GANNT style progress chart
and emphasize baby-step approaches, and trumpet the slightest
success. They even set a standard for news stories, patiently
following up so soon they were news resources, then the news, all
instead of ‘reacting to the news’ said Guevara Guth in a talk with
to US Libertarians.
“We expect a new
story per 1 million population daily, and if we’re not being treated
fairly we get on the phone,” he said.” However, by now we’re
constant news. Journalists say, ‘I wonder what the Libertarians are
doing now?’ Because that’s what their readers are wondering.”
To judge by GOOGLE
search results, the Movimiento is certainly doing media wonders.
Enter US Libertarian Party and you only get 3340 results—somewhat
misleading, as Democrats get 18,000 and the LP is basically local in
the US so dynamic affiliates, such as Pinellas, Florida, get about
10,000. Yet the Movimiento turns in over 11.000—astonishing interest
in comparison to even the major US parties. Indeed there’s such an
array of articles, discussions, policy papers, and fan sites, one
might wonder if it’s a party or a national tourist attraction.
Yet some of the
press is wary. The Economist magazine attracted derision when it did
an article touching on the Movimiento’s effect while failing to
mention it was Libertarian.
Continued on page 2
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By Mike Davis and S. S. Palacheck
International Researchers and Journalists
Keywords and Misspellings: Costa Rica Coasta
Rico Libertarian Liberty