The other night I was watching my local PBS station and was fortunate to stumble on a documentary called “The Power of the Poor” about the work of economist Hernando de Soto in his native Peru. The documentary describes the work of de Soto’s non-profit organization called The Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) which he formed almost 30 years ago and continues today as its President. It describes how the ILD through the power of its ideas defeated the Shining Path Guerrillas, a militant Maoist group intent on ruling Peru in the 1990’s. Ultimately the Guerrillas were captured, convicted and jailed by the Peruvian government, and de Soto continues his work in Peru and abroad spreading a form of libertarian capitalism tailored to the poor and intent on lifting them from their poverty.
The video The Power of the Poor is available from Free to Choose Media and is a wonderful explanation of how poverty can be eliminated (as is happening now in Peru) by reducing government red tape and making small changes to the legal status of individuals by granting them property rights.
A great way to start a New Year.
De Soto received The Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2004 from the CATO Institute.