Students For Liberty has been active in Brazil for about eight years, and its existence would likely not be possible without the hard work and initiative of Fabio Ostermann.
A decade ago, Brazil did not have a strong or coordinated liberty movement. Caught in the jaws of a corrupt and interventionist government, the country’s youth found themselves disillusioned with politics, without much clarity on where they should focus their activism efforts. Over the last few years, young Brazilians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to protest corrupt and interventionist government policies. The Brazilian liberty movement has become a beacon of hope for all who care about liberty across the world.
Today, there are a dozen young, pro-liberty politicians, in the State Parliament and National Congress. One of these politicians is Fabio Ostermann, the co-founder of Students For Liberty Brazil and founder of LIVRES, an organization supporting classical liberal politicians in Brazil.
“We didn’t have a strong liberty movement 5-7 years ago,” Fabio says, “and the strength of the movement is directly connected to the growth of SFL. It’s easy to lose sight of what is happening in the country if you’re concentrating on your own state. SFL has acted as a strong network of support for Brazilians across the country.”
Fabio got introduced to SFL ten years ago, while at Cato University where he met SFL co-founder Alexander McCobin. Fascinated by the idea of supporting students dedicated to liberty, and convinced of the need to fight for freedom in his country, Fabio got the idea to create a branch of SFL in Brazil. In 2009, while studying for his Master’s Degree at Georgetown University, Fabio got further involved with the global liberty movement better and together with some friends, successfully launched an SFL chapter in his region in 2010.
“We created events, manuals, attended protests, sold T-Shirts, but we had only a regional impact”, but that didn’t make him give up on this idea. While working at the Brazilian think tank Instituto Ordem Livre, Fabio had the opportunity to meet other young and motivated leaders dedicated to liberty who helped him expand SFL from a regional to a national project.
“When we were growing the organization, it helped that we could show other leaders that they were not alone. I would always talk about how young people should get involved and to inspire people to join the fight, it was important to talk about the value of having a network.”
Although he had been a liberty activist since school, Fabio didn’t plan to be involved in politics, building his career as a political scientist and law professor. He later founded LIVRES because he thought that there needed to be more visibility and representation of the ideas of liberty in the public debate. LIVRES has grown into a non-partisan movement, a political coalition openly in favor of liberty which had nine wins in the elections in October 2018, including Fabio himself.
On how his experience with SFL helped him mobilize people for liberty, Fabio says, “I had experience working with a network across such a big country and I knew what kinds of obstacles to expect. Because of SFL, I was able to leverage the network of people who understood that we needed to get more representation for liberty.”
As an elected member of the Legislative Assembly in Rio Grande do Sul, Fabio leads by example. He promised to start reducing government debt by reducing the size of his staff and continues to inspire the generation of Students For Liberty leaders who follow in his footsteps.
Fabio continues to be involved with SFL, and was at the recent LibertyCon Brazil to discuss the different paths to liberty. To Fabio, “SFL was a beacon on what can be done to engage and spread the ideas of liberty. That’s why I founded the organization in Brazil, for Brazilian young libertarians to have a path in which they can follow”.