The Fund for American Studies’ youngest program, the Institute for Leadership in the Americas (ILA), held its third annual program from January 10-21 in Santiago, Chile. Forty-eight students from 11 countries participated in the program held at a new partner institution, the University of the Andes. Based in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, the school boasts one of the most modern campuses in Latin America.
In their first week of classes, ILA students learned about the moral basis of capitalism with Dr. Brad Thompson, head of the Center for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University.
Professors Juan Pablo Couyoumdjian of Universidad de Desarrollo (Development) and Juan Ignacio Brito of the University of the Andes led the second week of courses, giving ILA students insight into Chile’s successful democracy and free-market system. Chile’s economy has been a regional leader for over a decade and serves as the perfect model for ILA students to study.
“The ILA formula – one week establishing the philosophical basis of a market-based economy and the rule of law, followed by a week of empirical study of comparative economic systems in the region – has proven extremely successful,” said the Institute’s director Jon Perdue. “Many ILA students have reported that the program was the first time that they had ever been exposed to these ideas.”
ILA student Domingo Bracho was one of 17 students from Venezuela who attended the program. “I believe that I speak for all of the Venezuelan students that took part in ILA when I say that my return to Venezuela was characterized by a strong desire to fight for freedom in my country now more than ever. I can say that the program has renewed our energy and our hope for the political and economic situation in our country.”
While in Santiago, students toured historic sites, including the Diplomatic Academy, the Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy. They were also recognized and given an ovation by lawmakers on the floor of the chamber of deputies at the Chilean Congress in the port city of Valparaiso.
Special guest José Piñera, the brother of President Sebastian Piñera and architect of Chile’s self-directed pension system, gave a private lecture to the students on the implementation of the pension system, which has been applied in many Latin American countries.