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Monday, January 13, 2020

Liberty Is on the Rise in Brazil

We are confident that if those who love liberty continue to work hard and smart, Brazil’s best days are ahead.

Image Credit: DavidRockDesign

(Editor’s Note: This week, online and in bookstores all across Brazil, the Sao Paulo-based publisher Faro Editorial releases Como Se Preparar Para Uma Economia Liberal by FEE President Emeritus Lawrence W. Reed. It’s a Portuguese adaptation of his book Are We Good Enough for Liberty? and includes additional chapters drawn from FEE.org. To mark the occasion, Mr. Reed collaborated with Rafael Ribeiro of Salvador, Brazil, in the preparation of this essay. Last year, Faro Editorial published Desculpe-Me Socialista, a popular Portuguese version of Reed’s Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism.)

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Many eyes around the world are watching Brazil, a country of 210 million people and Latin America’s largest. For those who love liberty and free markets, it’s a place that now offers hope in place of the despair that gripped the country before elections in 2018 swept socialists from their long-held positions of power.

Brazil has experienced an extraordinary shift away from statism—in terms of both popular ideas and public policy. These things never move in a straight line, and there’s certainly still an immense amount of progress yet to be made. But make no mistake about it, Brazil is a different place today than it was a decade ago. The optimism, excitement, and activity among Brazilians who long for a free society are palpable nearly everywhere.

Free speech must be expanded to the fullest, not constrained by political repression.

Books and articles written by scholars such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises can now be found with Portuguese translations in bookstores across Brazil. Even previously ignored pro-liberty Brazilian authors like Roberto Campos, once unknown by the general public, are being given their due recognition. Foreign and local organizations have been established, promoting ideas to create and support a new generation of influencers. And most importantly, ordinary people are rejecting tired, old, anti-freedom concepts that dominated Brazilian hearts and minds for many decades.

Winds of Change

The winds of change are blowing in Brazil. Citizens are becoming more demanding with regard to both economics and politics; they want results, not empty promises made with other people’s money. Throughout the country, many new members of the federal Congress and state assemblies have been chosen on platforms of feasible, pro-liberty ideas. Terms like privatization are no longer considered politically detrimental, while other ones, such as taxation (especially more of it!), are now widely viewed as pejoratives.

In recent years, the number of Brazilians investing in the stock market has doubled. We are confident that if those who love liberty continue to work hard and smart, the country’s best days are ahead.And Brazil is the only country in the world where a Google search for Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises surpasses that of mainstream interventionist John Maynard Keynes.

“What’s next?” one might ask. Are Brazilians good enough for liberty? It’s beginning to appear as if they might be, but they’re just getting started. Brazilians have always exhibited an entrepreneurial spirit and a measure of good character, and they have demonstrated an inclination for liberty over subjugation. But ideas of state control and redistribution pushed upon society by a handful of progressives have taken a terrible toll and sidetracked Brazilians on the road to prosperity. Brazilians have much to do to make sure the country will continue moving in the direction of liberty.

Pictured on the left is Alexandre Aleluia, FEE alum and Councilman on Salvador’s City Council in Brazil, and on the right is author Rafael Riberio. 

Freedom Movements on College Campuses

One step is spreading the freedom philosophy on more college campuses in Brazil. It is of utmost importance because today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders. Como Se Preparar Para Uma Economia Liberal will play a huge part in that effort.

Pedro Almeida, editorial director at Faro Editorial, explains the backdrop that led to his decision to publish the book:

We decided to release Mr. Reed’s book early this year because Brazil is undergoing a major political and economic restructuring. And we need more material about Classical Liberal thought. For decades, the country lived under socialist theories, but now everything is changing. The book comes at a great time to start the year under new perspectives for a truly liberal economy.

In late 2019, the current president of the country launched a package of economic freedom laws to reduce bureaucracies at all levels and encourage entrepreneurship, which ultimately reduces state corruption and produces job creation. Reed’s book will provide support, as one does not change a culture overnight without sound ideas persuasively offered. It provides the basis for Brazilians to understand how to operate in this new economic model that emphasizes freer markets. We are delighted to launch the book throughout Brazil at a time when we are making the leap from a socialist economy toward a liberal one.

Brazilians must advance liberty principles in easy-to-understand ways so they become crystal clear and tied to high standards of truth and integrity. Good ideas like school choice, homeschooling, private initiative, and entrepreneurship must be championed to the general public. Free speech must be expanded to the fullest, not constrained by political repression. Ordinary people should be free to run for office as independents, representing their communities without a mandatory party affiliation. Brazilians must learn that one’s word and personal character—not a meaningless stamp from a government agency—should be paramount when making agreements and contracts with each other.

The past few years have been amazing for lovers of liberty in Brazil. We are confident that if those who love liberty continue to work hard and smart, the country’s best days are ahead.

So interested readers may learn more about the changes taking place in Brazil, we offer links below to articles and interviews previously published at FEE.org

Lawrence W. Reed is president emeritus of FEE. Rafael Ribeiro is a Brazilian Fulbright alumnus and the President of Instituto Antônio Lacerda in the state of Bahia, Brazil. While at the University of Georgia for a year, he worked with organizations such as Young Americans for Liberty. He often writes articles related to his home country for FEE.

For additional information, see:


  • Lawrence W. Reed is FEE's President Emeritus, having previously served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is also FEE's Humphreys Family Senior Fellow and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty. His Facebook page is here and his personal website is lawrencewreed.com.
  • Rafael Ribeiro of Salvador, Brazil, is a pro-liberty activist and Fulbright alumnus. While at the University of Georgia for a year recently, he worked with organizations such as Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Liberty and published an article on FEE.org about Brazilian economist Roberto Campos. Rafael has translated Mr. Reed’s interview with Brazilian candidates for Congress into Portuguese.