EspañolLibertarian university students in Costa Rica are looking for ways to challenge what they view as an expansion of Marxist ideology in academia. Rather than attempt to discredit socialist government initiatives directly, their plan is to focus on a positive and empirical message: “free societies tend to be the most prosperous.”
On Saturday, June 6, the largest network of libertarian students in Latin America, Estudiantes por la Libertad (EsLibertad), announced the official launch of EsLibertad Costa Rica, expanding their presence in the Central American nation.
EsLibertad is itself an international branch of the Washington DC-based group Students for Liberty (SFL), which is led and organized by college students and graduates all over the world. Currently, there are over 1,700 groups like EsLibertad Costa Rica connected to the SFL network globally.
Asdrúbal Vargas, president of EsLibertad and regional director for Costa Rica and Nicaragua, explained to the PanAm Post that while young Costa Ricans have already been working with EsLibertad through the AMAGI Institute since 2013, they believe this new group will help increase student outreach.
The organization plans to hold an official launch event for EsLibertad Costa Rica on Friday, June 19, in San José.
“We’re part of the Students for Liberty network, whose mission is to provide a unified, student-driven forum of support for students and student organizations dedicated to liberty.”
EsLibertad is primarily focused on organizing university events with the aim of defending principles of economic, individual, intellectual, and academic freedom.
“Costa Rica is going through a period of strong disenchantment, given the conditions of the country. We’re very concerned by how more left-leaning groups are feeding on popular discontent to swell their ranks,” Vargas told the PanAm Post.
He says socialist movements offer concerned young students misguided short-term solutions to chronic structural problems.
As for the NGOs and other opposition groups, Vargas says “they fall short when it comes to offering the youth the other side of the story, because they get stuck on corrosive rhetoric that only seeks to erode their rival’s argument, without presenting the case for their own ideas.”
The message they’re trying to deliver to the Costa Rican society is “positive, proactive, and pro-freedom.” He believes strongly that societies that guarantee both social and economic liberty are more successful and prosperous than the rest.
EsLibertad Costa Rica plans to deliver that message to the nation’s youth through the power of persuasion. “We come to fight the battle of ideas,” Vargas says.
“Without neglecting the academic side, we will try to engage in areas that classical liberals have been losing ground on for a long time, such as culture and the arts.”
SFL’s Impact in Latin America
Since 2013, EsLibertad has hosted numerous events throughout Latin America, each with hundreds of attendees. Conferences in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Ecuador often include speakers such as Axel Kaiser from Chile’s Foundation for Progress, Tom Palmer of the DC-based Cato Institute, and Argentina’s former Economy Minister Ricardo López Murphy.
Students have also translated classic texts of liberal thought into Spanish and other native tongues. EsLibertad’s Guatemala team, for example, translated Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law into kaqchikel, the second most spoken language in the Central American nation, and read it to the public over the local radio waves.