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Libertarians becoming more Popular in Costa Rica Controlling 10% of Congress

September 2nd 2005

Libertarians becoming much more Popular in Costa Rica Controlling 10% of Congress

Costa Rica

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 marginalize them.


The major parties may not want another Costa Rica Libertarian Movement, or Movimiento Libertario (http://www.libertario.org/en/index.htm ). 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.

Libertarians 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.

While Libertarians 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 speech.

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.



Libertarianism, 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

Please submit your comments or submit your own article here.     

By Mike Davis and S. S. Palacheck
International Researchers and Journalists

Libertarian Books

Keywords and Misspellings:  Costa Rica Coasta Rico Libertarian Liberty 

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:38 PM