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Libertarians May Get 20% of Seats

February 2nd 2006

Libertarians May Get 20% of Seats

Election 2006

Orlando, FL-Those Costa Rican Libertarians are at it  again: They may well get 20% of the seats in the Costa Rican Congress.

That's pretty significant in a party that wants to abolish or radically minimize government, was founded a few years ago, and whose leader's response when he first heard of Libertarianism  was, "What in the world is that?"

They certainly know what they want to do now: raise people's self-ownership by ending several hi-cost government monopolies, get Costa Rica out of the Drug War, and raise people's incomes by removing antique regulations that hinder low-income businesspeople and can hinder property ownership.

 

It's also significant in that the Costa Ricans have proven to be canny negotiators, refusing to budge on principle while proposing a broad array of transitional items to their Libertarian objectives. With 10% of the legislature, they've blocked a major tax rise and prevented formation, according to local media, of something people in the US can appreciate: a re-organized tax bureaucracy suspiciously modeled on the American IRS.

LATIN BEAT

The Costa  Rican Libertarian Movement (http://www.libertario.org) carefully studied the US party's history, working with international Libertarian groups to isolate the successes and repeat them. For example, while US Libertarians still debate how radical their party should be, the Costa Ricans embraced radicalism, feeling their job was "To make the public come to us," said Otto Guevara Guth, the party leader in a US interview: "When I got involved I studied everything, so I know that radical as Libertarianism sounds, it works. You have to do that to be credible. The focus is then not compromise with them, they must compromise with us, and our compromise is, well, that's good, here's a step, next time do better. But in fact people start making bold proposals when you do. They don't think let's compromise when you commit. Then again, compromise has a different meaning in Spanish: it also means complete agreement. "

At the same time, some of their candidates are more Libertarian-direction than Libertarian, a controversial move that led some to resign the party, including one of its founders. Proponents defend it saying the idea is to bring an attractive candidate along with a variety of training courses, and point to the formation of local committees that often had only one Libertarian and now generate many supporters.

There are other differences. At the same time that they drew the line, the Costa  Ricans produced a voluminous set of  Program transition proposals, in contrast to an almost 30 year stop-and-go project the US Libertarian National Committee have again halted as it was completed, say its writers. In addition, their more long term proposals are championed by think tanks, again in contrast to the US, where the think tanks are even less radical in asserting the Libertarian message in many cases, focusing on minute policy issues in many cases, say observers.

Instead--ironically using some of the US concepts--the Costa Ricans also put out benefit emphasizing bridge literature as their plan of government, a 'Contract with Costa  Ricans'. They also understand the value of pictures, showing Libertarians hard at work clearing garbage, doing community work, and other activities on every page. In contrast, when the US national party ran a blog story on Libertarians working to help Katrina victims in St Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida, some people ridiculed it, starting a controversy. In its defense, the US party has to deal with an array of states with often conflicting laws and perspectives, readily acknowledging that local and State parties are often way ahead of the national organization. 

 

STREET POLITICS

A main factor, however, has been the Costa Rican Libertarian zeal for continual personal contact. For all its impressive literature, it emphasizes the spoken word and retail flesh-pressing in a way parties in the US have often forgotten, preferring to send reams of postcards and focus on TV commercials. While many Latin Libertarians prefer high-level contacts with politicians to advance their views, and the US Libertarians tend somewhere in between and emphasize internet contact and electoral work, the Costa Rica Libertarians seem to be unhappy unless they're in the streets, say observers. Their  Libertarians speak regularly at schools, their candidates practically camp out in low-income areas, and they make a point of working every possible contact to talk about Libertarianism's virtues as an emerging form of society and the benefits for the working person in a way that would put insurance salespeople to shame.

They also have branded themselves with a distinct "buzz" with an entertaining  radio show, easy to notice red shirts, and recently, even a catchy song to a Latin dance beat that warbles soulfully as the website opens. In addition, it doesn't hesitate to focus on Guevara, whose theatrically handsome looks beam from almost every photo.

As Libertarians get elected more and more, will the Costa Rican Movement focus on back-room politics?  "Our major concern internally is education," says Guevara at the web site. Indeed, they seem to work overtime to train newcomers while explaining their approaches to the public. The website has a mini-university, beginning with a tab called "Philosophy" and ending with detailed proposals and education links. Combined with local offices in several provinces, the Libertarians may well have over 20 offices and several provinces.

 
 
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By Mike Davis
Freelance Writer

 

Keywords and misspellings: law legal legle libeterian party libatarian affiate


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM