Libertarians May Get
20% of Seats
February 2nd 2006
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Keywords and misspellings: law legal legle libeterian party