Yon Goicoechea, leader of Venezuela’s pro-democracy student movement and a fervent critic of Venezuela’s Marxist tyrant Hugo Chavez, has been awarded the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.
According to the Cato Institute press release:
…Yon Goicoechea, leader of the pro-democracy student movement in Venezuela that successfully prevented President Hugo Chávez’s regime from seizing broad dictatorial powers in December 2007, has been awarded the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.
A 23-year-old law student, Mr. Goicoechea plays a pivotal role in organizing and voicing opposition to the erosion of human and civil rights in his country. In his commitment to a modern Venezuela, Goicoechea emphasizes tolerance and the human right to seek prosperity.
Venezuela’s student movement emerged in May of 2007 in response to a government-ordered shutdown of the nation’s oldest private television station, RCTV. In the face of ongoing death threats and continual intimidation due to his prominent and vocal leadership, Mr. Goicoechea has been indispensible in organizing massive, peaceful student protest marches that have captured the world’s attention.
By December of 2007, the student movement was credited with defeating a proposed constitutional reform that would have concentrated unprecedented political and economic power in the hands of the government.
“Yon Goicoechea is making an extraordinary contribution to liberty,” said Edward Crane, President of the Cato Institute. “We hope the Friedman Prize will help further his non-violent advocacy for basic freedoms in an increasingly militaristic and anti-democratic Venezuela.”
Renowned Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa remarked, “Freedom and complacency are incompatible and this is what we are seeing now in countries like Venezuela where freedom is disappearing little by little, and this has produced a very healthy and idealistic reaction among young people. I think Yon Goicoechea is a symbol of this democratic reaction when freedom is threatened.”
The prize will be formally presented in New York City on May 15. (The Human Rights Foundation sent out a companion press release which is available here.)
Capital Research Center published a paper on Chavez and his leftist American collaborators –among them former Congressman Joe Kennedy– earlier this year. The article, The American Friends of Hugo Chavez: Dial 1-800-4-TYRANT, appeared in the March issue of Organization Trends.