Saturday, March 17, 2018

The libertarian who founded a university

The Guatemalan Economic Miracle and the Man Who Helped It Happen - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Alfonso Abril:

March 15, 2018 - "Guatemala is a poor country, but we were richly blessed by the late Manuel 'Muso' Ayau, who was born here in 1925.... What can an honest citizen do to change a poor country for the better? Muso knew the recipe. Let me tell you how I interpret this Guatemalan hero’s vision and how his legacy contributes toward building a prosperous Guatemala.

"Our country is full of smart and passionate people. We have splendid weather, bountiful natural resources, and a strategic location with access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. So why is Guatemala poor? The reason lies in our weak institutions and flawed ideas, not in a lack of resources. Changing ideas so people support institutional reform, and then making those institutions work in people’s favor to create a prosperous society were the challenges that Muso tackled....

"Donald Boudreaux explains some background: 'Soon encountering burdensome regulations, corrupt bureaucrats, and absurd taxes, he joined with other Guatemalan businessmen seeking to free consumers and producers from the then-dominant command-and-control regulatory regime.... But as Muso once recalled to me, "I quickly became disillusioned. Even when we won a battle now and then, we continued to lose the war against statism. I realized that we would make no real progress unless we changed the underlying ideas of the people. We had to take a long-run perspective. I learned that freedom must triumph in people’s minds and hearts before it can make any headway in politics."'

"Muso believed in education, especially the education of intellectuals and other influencers to ensure a proper understanding of economic principles and the philosophy of freedom.... In 1958, he co-founded the Center for Economic–Social Studies (CEES), which began publishing and disseminating its own analyses of Guatemalan issues and also translating and distributing classic works in freedom literature such as Frederic Bastiat’s The Law....

"Undaunted by obstacles and skepticism, he founded Universidad Francisco MarroquĂ­n (UFM) in 1971, now a leading private university in Guatemala City, one of the finest in Latin America, and a beacon of freedom ideas. UFM, where academic excellence is a passion, is where I studied business.

"Muso established a rule at the founding of the University: Every student, no matter what his or her major field of study, must enroll and pass the 'Economic Process and Philosophy' courses. Those courses acquaint students with the 'Austrian School' of Economics, particularly the insights of two giants among 20th Century economists, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. Hayek. With that policy in practice at the university now for more than 40 years, solid free-market economic ideas have been spreading, slowly but surely, across the country....

"UFM is without a doubt the most important and enduring achievement of Manuel Ayau. His energy and his spirit endow every building and room on a stunning campus — in particular, the Mises Library, the Hayek Auditorium, the Atlas Libertas Sculpture, and the Liberty Plaza. The University teaches free-market economics and the philosophy of freedom to influential leaders of the future. The budget of UFM amounts to more than $30 million per year, a very significant figure for Guatemala. Visiting intellectuals from all over the world ensure lively discussions that keep the professors experts on the most innovative trends and ideas."

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1 comment:

  1. I once participated in a Likberty Fund conference at Marroquin University, and found it a lovely and inspiring place. We could use some of those here in Canada!