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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Capitalism at the Corner of Karl Marx and Ho Chi Minh

Entrepreneurship survives on streets named for Communists

FEE President Lawrence Reed is a globetrotter for liberty. Visiting 49 states and 81 countries, Reed has helped spread the ideas of freedom and free markets across the world, and he has a wealth of incredible stories and personal experiences, some of which he recently shared in a long interview in the Freeman.

One story caught the attention of Michael Van Beek, the director of research at the Mackinac Center (where Reed was president for many years):

In 1991, my late friend and then-senior vice president at the Mackinac Center Joe Overton and I flew at treetop level in broad daylight 150 miles into Mozambique from neighboring Malawi.

We were there for a couple of weeks with the anti-communist rebels during the Mozambique civil war. The plane was piloted by a Christian missionary who knew where to go: a makeshift runway the guerrillas quickly camouflaged with small trees and brush. If the regime had known of our plans, it would have put MIGs in the air to shoot us down.

A year later, we were back in Mozambique, courtesy of the regime itself, to see things from their perspective. We even had dinner with the president, Joaquim Chissano, at the presidential palace.

I asked him, “How are we to believe you’re no longer Marxist when the streets here in Maputo are named for thugs like Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin?”

He replied with a smile, “We are going to change the names of the streets.”

I don’t know that he ever did.

Now Van Beek has followed up:

I have some bad news for Larry. Using Google Maps, I confirmed that those streets can still be found in Maputo. But I’m sure Larry won’t be too surprised at being misled by a politician.

There’s good news too, though, because I also found a supermarket at the corner of Avenida Karl Marx and Avenida Ho Chi Min. Even on streets named for communists, markets at work!

Capitalism on the corner of Marx and Minh — that’s some irony worth celebrating!

Check out the rest of this fascinating interview here.

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