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Hating Freedom

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    Che s Way By Gabriela Calderon Published 4/1/2008 12:08:30 AM BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA -- Last week I attended a conference in Rosario, Argentina, to celebrate
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2008
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      Che's Way
      By Gabriela Calderon
      Published 4/1/2008 12:08:30 AM


      BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA -- Last week I attended a conference in
      Rosario, Argentina, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the think
      tank Fundacion Libertad. The event brought together a motley crew of
      classical liberal historians, philosophers, journalists, novelists,
      scholars, and politicians from almost 40 countries. The writers Mario
      Vargas Llosa, Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza and Carlos Alberto Montaner were
      among the distinguished speakers.

      Rosario is the city where Ernesto Che Guevara was born. Since 1989,
      it's been governed by a series of socialist administrations. On
      Friday afternoon, as we left a luncheon at the city Chamber of
      Commerce, I ended up on a bus seated next to Vargas Llosa. I gushed
      to him about how much his books had meant to me. In response, he
      didn't speak of himself or his work. Instead, he asked my name, what
      I had studied, what I did for a living, what had led me to writing.

      Then the bus stopped abruptly. We had reached the Plaza de la
      Cooperacion, popularly referred to as "Che's Plaza" for the
      revolutionary portrait that adorns it. The vehicle stopped because we
      were trapped by an angry mob of 150 people, who began raining down
      stones on us.

      The passengers on the bus drew the curtains. Our security escort
      began frantically calling people on his cell phone, but no one
      answered. Then his phone lost reception. The rioters broke a window
      and we heard pieces of glass falling. Three more windows were smashed
      in rapid succession and someone hollered that they'd broken the
      driver's window.

      I got down on the floor with my head under the seat, but Vargas Llosa
      remained seated calmly to my left. From this awkward position, I
      asked him if he was always received in this manner. Not always, he
      said, but frequently.

      About that time, the mob tried force the bus door open. But
      thankfully the driver finally managed to back the bus out and make a
      hasty exit.


      WHEN I TOLD MY Ecuadorian family and friends what had happened,
      several of them wondered, "Why do they hate him?" I thought of Ortega
      y Gasset: "The mass...does not wish to share life with those not of
      it. It hates to death everything that is not itself."

      Vargas Llosa has devoted most of his life to writing a nd traveling
      around the world extolling the virtues of liberty. Decades ago he
      believed in armed revolution, but his experiences and a series of
      reconsiderations led him to new realizations. Ever since, Vargas
      Llosa has usually been received with stones by extreme Latin American
      leftists.

      Though the differences among those at the Fundacion Libertad
      conference were significant, we all agreed on basic principles:
      equality under the law and protection of private property rights as a
      mechanism to secure liberty and thus, life.

      No one can speak of liberty, democracy and human rights while
      throwing stones at someone for only having voiced a different
      opinion. After all, none of these three things can exist where there
      is no tolerance.


      Gabriela Calderon is a writer at the Cato Institute and editor of
      ElCato.org. www.spectator.org


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