On December 2, 2007, Hugo Chávez’s attempt to grant complete power to his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and install himself as Venezuela’s dictator failed. An average Venezuelan student decided not watch every
liberty stripped from Venezuelans and led 200,000 people on marches
against Chávez’s constitutional reforms. For his efforts, Yon Goicoechea is this year’s recipient of the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.
“Chávez is not Venezuela. There is another different Venezuela that is
growing in our land. Another different Venezuela, with a new
perspective of life, with a new perspective of government, and with a
new [sense] of modernity,” Goicoechea said when accepting the award.
In his acceptance speech, Goicoechea explains that his goal was not only to stop a tyrant, but to start a revolution:
We cannot be defined by dictators any more . . . And,
now it is our time to make a revolution: the revolution of ideas, the
revolution of ideals, and the revolution of progress. I think the only
revolution possible in Latin America and other poor countries is the
revolution of making a state with solid, stable, and free institutions.
But, also a revolution that makes citizens know and recognize their own
capacity to overcome poverty and to solve their own problems.”
Yon believes that “humans have the capacity to get better all by
themselves.” To Americans this notion is simply absurd; we all know
that the government must help people in need, especially the poor,
because they are incapable of helping themselves . . . silly Yon.
However, as Yon explains, “Poor people are not stupid. They don’t have
to be cared [for] by the government. They have to be left alone by the
government. Everyone can be better, they just need the opportunity.”
“Everyone can be better, they just need the opportunity.” Yon
understands this opportunity exists when government interference is
minimal. Yon understands “[overcoming] poverty, the great enemy of
Latin America, is through liberty because the only way to overcome
poverty is through human capacity to innovate, through human
creativity, through human work.”