Mart van der Leer

About Mart van der Leer

Mart van der Leer is an International Business graduate (B.B.A.) from The Netherlands. He's an advocate for voluntaryism and the Austrian School of Economics. Follow him on Twitter at @the_raw_report and visit his website The Raw Report.

Liberdade! The Brazil Liberty Seminar

The Brazil Liberty Team, left to right: Patrick Reagan, Mart van der Leer, Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Glenn Cripe

The Brazil Liberty Team, left to right: Patrick Reagan, Mart van der Leer, Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Glenn Cripe.

On Tuesday morning our Liberty Team left the city of Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil. After a 5-hour bus ride we arrived in the city of Rio Grande, one of the country’s busiest maritime ports. For our wonderful hosts’ group Clube Atlântico, founded about 6 months ago, it was the first time they received international guests. Nonetheless, thanks especially to the efforts of Camilla, Eduardo, Heber and Everson we felt so welcome and comfortable it was like meeting old friends!

In a city known for its strong unions related to the port and city, the group has encountered aggressive opposition from left-leaning (student) groups. Though such groups apparently don’t shy away from vandalizing property in order to make a point, the Liberty Seminar was not interrupted by a confrontation. After a word of welcome from Clube Atlântico’s president Henrique, Glenn introduced the Language of Liberty Institute to the audience followed by Patrick’s empowering speech about educational alternatives and homeschooling, and a talk on marketing liberty by Mart.

After the break the attendees were treated to an eloquent presentation by CATO’s Latin America expert Juan Carlos Hidalgo on how economic freedom leads to economic growth and betters people’s lives. The 35 students that attended the seminar, hailing from all over Brazil, left feeling encouraged and inspired to redouble their efforts for the cause of liberty. During the post-event dinner with our new friends we were told that the event had also attracted new members to the group.

Encountering the sort of opposition we saw in Rio Grande was a new experience even after organizing over 40 programs all over the world, including many former Soviet countries. Still, it is easy to see the amazing opportunity in the city considering the port and the university that attracts students from all over the country. In this hostile environment communicating the message of liberty effectively will be especially important, but if it succeeds the city and its people face a very bright future.

Liberty Camp Brazil students

Liberty Camp Brazil students.

The next day we continued our Liberty Tour and went on our way to Pelotas a little farther inland. The local EPL (Estudantes Pela Liberdade) chapter Clube Austral, founded late last summer, hosted us in the Mercosul lecture room of their university. The event was followed by a dinner at a restaurant called Cruz de Malta, reminding us of our most recent trip with the Language of Liberty Institute.

Early Thursday morning we got on the bus for a long trip through the country en route to Santa Maria – the site of the tragedy at club KISS when a fire cost over 200 young people their lives. Eighteen months later the building is still boarded up, with pictures of students and flowers on the sidewalk reminding everyone of what happened that night. If anything good can be said to come out of such a tragic event, the students and locals bonded and found a lot of support with one another. The local government, however, has made safety requirements so onerous as to prevent any other clubs from continuing or opening up business since, in a city full of young people looking for entertainment.

Authentic Brazilian churrasco

Authentic Brazilian churrasco!

Presenting the empowering and uplifting message of liberty against such a backdrop felt all the more like a blessing. We were joined by Helio Beltrão, founder of Mises Brazil, who gave us his perspective on net neutrality and other current issues in Brazil. The typical Brazilian churrasco (barbeque) hosted by the local group Clube Farroupilha (lighthouse), which has already attracted more than 100 members in only six months, concluded an inspiring and fun evening.

The billions of taxpayer dollars that went into soccer stadiums and infrastructure in remote areas for the upcoming World Cup seem to have spiked skepticism of government policy among Brazilians. It seems that now is a good time for people like our new friends to seize the moment and show people why liberty is the way. The timing for the Brazil Liberty Seminar could not have been any better!

N.B. To see pictures of the Brazil Liberty Seminars, be sure to visit the Language of Liberty Institute’s Instagram profile at instagram.com/languageofliberty!

Speaking the Language of Liberty

To anyone who has not lived in a cage in recent years, it is clear that libertarianism is gathering momentum and becoming more mainstream. Consequently, those of us who care about liberty should expect to get many questions from “outsiders” about what we stand for. Plenty of misconceptions and objections will need to be addressed as well as questions to be answered. Attending a Liberty Camp organized by the Language of Liberty Institute (LLI) can give you the arrows you’ll need in your quiver to do just that.

Attendees at last week’s Liberty English Camp on the Mediterranean island of Malta can attest to its benefits. Nearly fifty students of thirteen nationalities produced a larger than usual turnout for a Liberty Camp. They learned a lot from many different speakers about why liberty matters, the origin of rights, the war on drugs, seasteading, the difference between real and crony capitalism (from a Wall Street insider, no less), why Estonia attracts a lot of foreign investment, starting the revolution, the European Union, and how to set up an independent Civil Society Organization (CSO). In addition, we were entertained by movies and documentaries, not to mention social events and a talent show to top it all off!

Attendees of the Liberty English Camp in Malta April 23-30, 2014.

Attendees of the Liberty English Camp in Malta April 23-30, 2014.

Liberty Camps are generally held in the countryside of developing nations all over the world, so the small island of Malta provided a slightly different experience. Compared to most seminars or conferences, though, the common denominator for all LLI events is their informal nature; the speakers lead discussion groups and workshop sessions, and blend in with the others during all social events. Along with stimulating English conversation, this is what makes Liberty Camps uniquely suitable for those who are new to the ideas of liberty. After all, how often does one get the chance to hang out with and ask questions of a speaker at a conference or seminar?

I was invited to present the case against the European Union, to which I added strategies for avoiding the statist paradigm in many different areas. (Look for more about that in the coming weeks here). It was the first time I was able to attend a Liberty Camp, and as you can probably tell from the above, I was thoroughly impressed. I’m sure I will attend many more in the future and I will be happy to share my experiences with you here.

The Language of Liberty Institute’s schedule for this year features events in South America, Eastern Europe, Africa, and possibly India. For more information, be sure to visit their website, give the Facebook page a like, and follow LLI on Twitter. There might very well be a Liberty Camp near you this year – or  perhaps you feel inspired to help organize one in your city or country!

All that remains for me to say is a big thanks to the organizers of the Liberty English Camp in Malta for doing a great job making everything run so smoothly, and to all the attendees for their participation. Your enthusiasm made for an incredibly enriching and memorable Malta Liberty Camp!

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I was not compensated for writing this article and singing the praises of the Language of Liberty Institute or the Liberty Camps. This is my genuine opinion I wanted to share with you for informational purposes and for your enjoyment.]

This article first appeared on The Raw Report.