Oscar Torrealba was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in a single-parent household of modest means. During his youth, Oscar was a dedicated Marxist, convinced that more government control would improve his economic situation. Today, he is an economist at the venerated pro-liberty think-tank Cedice Libertad and a professor of Austrian Economics at Monteavila University. Oscar is one of the most respected voices for freedom in Venezuela and mobilizes people to speak out about the reality of socialism.
“I live in a country with a totalitarian government. Freedom is my life. I think that the struggle for freedom is the struggle for life itself and to fight for freedom is to worry about guaranteeing a better future for all.”
As the country’s economy continues to plummet and government policies become more authoritarian, Oscar continues to risk his own freedom to fight for a freer future. His position as spokesperson for Cedice allows him to promote the ideas of liberty in popular media outlets such as GloboVision and Vivo TV. “It takes strength to be able to face socialism on a daily basis,” Oscar admits. “It is a great risk just to talk about the ideas of freedom in a totalitarian country. Being an activist with SFL helped me develop the skills I need to advocate freedom effectively, with strength and prudence.”
In 2013, while at the height of his Marxist beliefs working for the government agency Defensoría del Pueblo, he received an invitation to attend a workshop organized by Estudiantes por la Libertad called “Soluciones de Mercado a problemas públicos” (Market solutions to public problems). After this event, he attended the EsLibertad Summer Academy at the Metropolitan University, getting eight weeks of intensive training in free-market economics from Venezuelan economists.
It was through passionate discussions with Venezuelans about free markets that Oscar started to change his mind, eventually realizing that the ideas of liberty are the most effective way to fight poverty. Once he knew more about Estudiantes por la Libertad, Oscar started to write for the Eslibertad blog to spread the ideas to a wider audience and encourage other young people to join the movement. “SFL enhanced my skills as a leader and as a coach. Motivating leaders in Venezuela is not an easy task. In Venezuela, there are many unmet needs and therefore keeping young people interested in promoting freedom is a difficult task. However, the love of freedom is strong and has guaranteed the presence of SFL in Venezuela.”
Oscar continues to be involved with SFL, occasionally giving speeches at EsLibertad events to keep young leaders motivated. Having grown up under socialism, he understands that in Venezuela’s difficult economic and political situation, young people become less interested in volunteering, so he is well-positioned to provide leadership support to the regional directors following in his footsteps. “I continue to support SFL because it is an organization with a noble cause. SFL is a vibrant organization that works with young people. We achieve so much with few resources, driven by a passion to do good things in the world. The phenomenon of voluntariness and positive energy in SFL is enormous and unique.”