As Daniel quoted here, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
NEW YORK — Embattled Venezuelan student leader Yon Goicoechea is the fourth recipient of the Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Last November, Mr. Goicoechea was chosen by the Human Rights Foundation as one of nine illustrative cases of human rights violations occurring in Venezuela. He became Number Two of the Caracas Nine.
“This is a magnificent gift from the Cato Institute to the cause of human dignity and freedom in Latin America,” said Thor Halvorssen, HRF’s president. “Yon Goicoechea is a symbol of hope and courage and this honor is the freedom equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize,” he added.
Since early 2007, Mr. Goicoechea and his classmates chose to publicly oppose the violations of human rights by the Venezuelan government. Prompted by the shutdown of public broadcasting station Radio Caracas Television (see www.FreeRCTV.com), they organized a student protest that lasted for months and underlined the importance of safeguarding individual rights and preventing the expansion of unchecked government power. Mr. Goicoechea has stated that he will use the $500,000 cash prize to start a foundation to encourage student activism for democracy.
Previous recipients of the Cato Institute’s prize include HRF International Council member Mart Laar, a student who led Estonia’s Singing Revolution and later became emancipated Estonia’s Prime Minister; Peruvian activist Hernando de Soto; and British economist Peter Bauer. More information about the award for Yon Goicoechea and information surrounding the festivities can be found here, and for a copy of HRF’s full report about the violations of human rights in the case of Yon Goicoechea click here.