Alberto wasn’t always liberty-minded. Not until he came to the United States.
During his junior year of high school, he left Spain to study in the U.S., which opened his eyes to the possibilities of a more open economy and freer markets. It stood in stark contrast to what he’d seen in his home country. And he was hungry to learn more.
He started reading libertarian thinkers and listening to Spanish economists like Juan Ramón Rallo and Daniel Lacalle. He looked them up online and saw they were speaking at Students For Liberty events.
Alberto was hooked.
He now leads one of the fastest-growing, most vibrant SFL regions in the world: Iberia (Spain and Portugal).
Alberto’s Journey in His Own Words
“The first big event I attended was SFL’s regional conference for Iberia. I thought only a few people were defending these sorts of ideas in Spain but there were around 600 attendees – I didn’t feel so alone anymore.”
“I was in my second year of university in Madrid and was already sharing these ideas, but most students had totally opposite beliefs. After that event, I established SFL at my university, and we started recruiting a lot of students.”
“There’s not much you can find in mainstream media or libraries about the ideas of liberty. With SFL, I got recommendations for books and trainings to help me learn more. That helped me to find the institution where I currently work and to have the level of knowledge I need for the job.”
“I started as an intern with a Madrid-based think tank one and a half years ago and now I work there as a research coordinator. Without SFL, I definitely wouldn’t be working here.”
“I am also the SFL Regional Coordinator for Iberia. It was growing before I joined and has continued to grow a lot, even during the pandemic. We have much more influence than we used to because previous SFL leaders now work in think tanks, for government bodies, or as advisors to politicians. Speakers who were only attending SFL events a few years ago are now on TV, radio, and newspapers every day. The liberty movement is growing really, really fast in Spain.”
Hooligans For Liberty
“Spain faces a lot of challenges, having faced two big, harsh economic crises. Socialists and communists in government are managing the Spanish economy very badly and establishing anti-liberty measures related to the pandemic. Recent studies have shown that Spain is one of the countries where people feel most dependent on the state so, in some ways, our ideas are very radical to the mainstream Spanish public.”
“Sometimes, we are seen as liberty hooligans.”
“Threats from the Spanish government are an opportunity for us – not only a risk – because a lot of young people are getting very angry. They are opposing certain measures which get them closer to us and make them rethink their ideas.”
“It’s very important to get our ideas into conversations even if, at the start, we might not be popular – otherwise, we’re letting other ideologies and ways of thinking grab those people. Spanish universities are influenced by social justice warriors and left-leaning organizations, so many people might feel like me at first – that they’re the only one who thinks like this. But, once they start sharing these ideas, they might find others, team up and grow bigger. It’s very important to share, and not to be afraid of these conversations.”
“For Spain and Portugal, the main target is to have more economic freedom. We are countries with very high taxes, a lot of public spending and subsidies, and our economies are very damaged. We do not rank very badly on civil liberties in Spain and Portugal, but there is always the threat that we can lose them, so we have to keep fighting.”
SFL’s Largest Region in Europe
“During the pandemic, we had 20% growth in volunteers. Before the pandemic, we had around 600 volunteers in Spain and now we have more than 800 people in 30 groups around Spain – 20 of whom are local coordinators. Now, our ideas are really getting shared and a lot of people are hearing them. During the last two or three years, most of the political parties have been trying to make their discourse sound like they are the true liberty party. A few parties are starting to include liberty-minded politicians and including those ideas in their policy programs. So we’re having an actual impact.”
“In Spain, there are a lot of student organizations, but none of them has the global network of contacts that SFL has. No other organization has our training programs for philosophy, economics, and law which are great tools for young students – I can’t think of any organization that can compete with us on that level.”
“We also have a very big alumni network. Once people join us, they realize that there is a huge potential for making professional contacts and developing their professional careers as well. Ex-Regional Coordinator Irune Ariño now works in the regional government of Madrid, Álvaro Pavón (ex-President of our directive board) will be working in Brussels as an advisor to a Spanish political party in the EU Parliament or Ex-National Coordinator Pablo Gianella is now the Deputy Director of Spanish libertarian leading think-tank Instituto Juan de Mariana. No other organization in Spain can offer that.”