Libertarians You’ve Never Heard Of: Manuel F. (Muso) Ayau

SFL Staff

It’s important to learn from intellectual giants like Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, but there are many unsung heroes that are also worth exploring. In thiseducational series, we hope to introduce students to such individuals. While not all of the figures profiled here explicitly identified as libertarian, they made great contributions to the cause of libertythat are worth acknowledging.

“In the market one can make a fortune only by trading with and by enrichingothers.This realization torpedoes the claim to the moral high ground of the wealth redistributionists.”-Manuel F. Ayau.

Who: Manuel F. Ayau (1925-2010), affectionately called Muso, was a Guatemalan entrepreneur, businessman, economist, commercial banker, and educator.

Why he matters: Muso Ayau is important to the libertarian movement because he disseminated the ideas of liberty in Latin America, especially in Guatemala. In the late 1950s, he founded the first think tank in Guatemala, CEES (Center for Economic and Social Studies). Its main objective is to understand the conditions and preconditions of free and prosperous societies. However, the think tank wasn’t enough and Ayau went a step further. In 1972 he founded the first libertarian university in Latin America, Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM). The core mission of UFM is to teach and disseminate the ethical, legal and economic principles of a society of free and responsible persons. Today, UFM is one of the leading universities across the world, and it is highly recognized for being the house of liberty.

UFM has hosted important figures in the libertarian movement as F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Margit von Mises (Ludwig von Mises’ wife), Viktor Frankl, Vernon Smith, Nathaniel Branden, John Stossel, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Rand Paul, among others.

Ayau was also a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, and he was its president from 1970 to 1974. He was on the board of directors of the Liberty Fund, a trustee of the Foundation for Economic Education, and a member of The Philadelphia Society.

He also entered the realm of politics in Guatemala as a member of Congress from 1970 to 1974 and a presidential candidate in 1990. His last contribution to freedom in Guatemala was his involvement with  the Asociación Civil ProReforma, whose objective was to change the reforms established in Guatemala’s Constitution.

In 2004 he was awarded by the Mont Pelerin Society for his contribution for freedom. He obtained the Adam Smith Award and the Juan de Mariana Award.

If you only read one thing:Not a Zero-Sum Game (2007)