Human Rights, Revisited
by Alvaro Vargas Llosa:
The discussion about human rights, therefore, is a discussion between those, on the left and the right, for whom the end justifies the means and therefore legitimizes the use of state force against peaceful individuals, and those for whom the rights of an individual take precedence over the government’s aims and interests. If you think individual liberty is paramount, you do not justify Castro’s human rights violations on the grounds that U.S. foreign policy against Havana is unjust, and you do not justify Pinochet’s elimination of 3,000 Chileans on the grounds that his free market policies were ultimately beneficial for the country.
One essential problem with the issue of human rights has been the difficulty, on the part of the left, to understand that property rights are at the core of that very notion. Ultimately, the “right” a person has not to be violated is the property he or she exercises over his or her body (by extension, a person should enjoy the “right” not to have his or her possessions expropriated through outright violence or distributive compulsion). And the right has had a hard time understanding that notions such as “free markets” and “free enterprise” are meaningless if the government concentrates power around it to such an extent that society is no longer a “spontaneous order” (in Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek’s famous phrase) but an autocratic command system in which human rights are conditional on the government’s plans.
Sadly, Ibero American leaders at the summit seemed quite unconcerned with these important truths.
The leaders at the summit issued an official statement condemning the U.S. “blockade” of Cuba. All the embargo does is serve as a propaganda instrument at fidel’s service.