Colombia’s First Libertarian Party on the March
Karen Muñoz: New Communication Technologies Give Voice to Classical-Liberal Ideas
Personal autonomy and limits on politicians are the common goals of Colombians uniting toward a different approach to politics. Karen Muñoz of Cali is one at the helm, a multi-talented woman and English teacher who decided to collaborate with the Libertarian Movement — a new classical-liberal political party in Colombia. The Antigua Report interviewed her to better understand her strategy for the promotion of individual freedom and market liberalization, as well as the agenda of the party.
How did the Libertarian Movement come to be?
The Colombian Libertarian Movement started in 2015 as the vehicle for a candidate for Bogotá Mayor. Since that is the second most important election in our country, it received a lot of media coverage. The candidate of the movement raised a lot of interest, because his ideas were very different from the rest. Since then, the movement has not stopped growing, and this year we have a presidential candidate (Juan de Zubiría).
We want Colombia to be more respectful of individual freedom.
Socially, that means we believe each person has the right to choose his or her lifestyle, projects, and companions, even if others believe those options are not healthy, productive, or convenient for him or her. We do not think governments have the right to make activities without victims illegal.
Economically, we want the reduction and elimination of some taxes and to reduce the huge burden of regulations we have on businesses. People should be free to trade with whom they want to as long as it is done peacefully and honestly.
How can your party change the dynamics and influence the other parties?
Well, this year Colombians are very discouraged, because it has been a difficult time economically. Economic analysts frequently explain that it is the consequence, mainly, of this government’s tax increases.
Some libertarians write for important online news outlets and newspapers, others work on television and popular podcasts. I believe they are, in part, responsible for waking people up about the consequences of high taxes and all the obstacles the government creates for the growth of capitalism and innovation.
We want to impact those who are in other parties and help them see that the state should not control our economic and social relations, and that this view derives from the same principle. Some of those who eventually agree with us could join us, and I imagine some others will stay in their parties and be advocates for more individual freedom.
What is your role with the organization and objectives?
I coordinate, with the help of three other libertarians, the activities of the movement in Cali, the city I live in. I collaborate with the management of the movement’s social media, nationally and locally. Also, since we have for the first time a libertarian presidential candidate, Juan de Zubiría, I support him as a volunteer in his campaign.
We hope to convince Colombians with sound arguments and empirical evidence the benefits of a high degree of social and economic freedom, and above all, that it is the most ethical way to grow as a society. For that, we need more libertarians writing articles, making videos, speaking at universities, sharing content on social media, and doing more innovative activities to transmit our points of view. The ones that are already doing it have done a great job. Another objective is to have more members participating in politics running in local elections.
How do you think this party can better appeal to an apathetic audience?
I think most of the apathy comes from people not perceiving real differences from one party to the other. Most people notice that some politicians want to preserve traditional lifestyles (mostly based on religious teachings), with the authority of the state as an instrument for that. Others are more liberal and inclusive about it.
However, when it comes to economic policies and, especially, corruptions scandals, Colombians do not see big differences among parties. Most are sick and tired of it all. The Libertarian Movement has the challenge of making clear that it is different from the other parties in its political philosophy (which would help to fight systemic corruption, by the way) and ethical conduct in order to get the attention of those indifferent towards politics or disappointed.
What new technology or new methods are available that perhaps would allow a liberal voice to get involved?
The Internet has been the most useful tool to access knowledge and spread it. Social media has been particularly important to get people interested in libertarians and then learn by themselves more about it or reach directly to us with their questions. In this regard, there are libertarians who select and create content to share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, whether through their personal accounts or those of the movement.
Others blog or write articles for online media outlets, start their own podcasts, or use Facebook Live to discuss national news and conduct interviews. For example, a group of guys created a Facebook page named Libertad TV and are using it as a TV channel with scheduled topics, like Capitalism on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Technology on Thursdays, same time. I think that idea is really cool. There have been some academic events too, like congresses and seminars about Austrian economics, and of course, email and social media are the means to promote them.
Paz Gómez contributed to this article.