Manuel Ayau: Champion of freedom


Manuel F. Ayau , rector emeritus of the University Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala and former President of the Mont Pelerin Society, died today. An entrepreneur, thinker and tireless advocate of the principles of the free society and free economy, the Universidad Francisco Marroquín is the most visible fruit of his efforts.

He applied his great entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to create a superlative institution, building it and teaching at it over four decades, and in the process putting together a powerful team of advocates for the principles of freedom. The extraordinary success of the Fabian Society convinced Ayau that education of the intellectual elite was a decisive factor in the destiny of a country. He and colleagues founded Francisco Marroquín University with this important function. Perhaps nobody in Latin America has made so profound an impact in promoting the ideas of classical liberalism in the region.

But he had an immediate practical effect too. He was instrumental in the decision of Guatemala's central bank to abandon fixed exchange rates, in measures that allowed people to hold gold legally, and in the country's telecommunications deregulation, giving Guatemala one of the most free communications regimes in the world.