The “Pink Tide” and Neoliberal Civil Society Formation: Think Tank Networks in Latin America

By Karin Fischer & Dieter Plehwe
March 12, 2013

Neoliberalism in Latin America is frequently associated with the history of military dictatorships and the “Washington Consensus”. Even if the opposition against neoliberalism led to a turn to the left in many countries, the legacy of neoliberalism remains strong and neoliberals continue to be a force to be reckoned with. This article surveys the Atlas Foundation and other neoliberal think tank networks in and beyond Latin America in order to observe contemporary orientations and strategies pursued by neoliberal agencies in reaction to the rise of the “pink tide”. Rather than reducing the presence of neoliberalism to military regimes or governments, the authors apply a transnational class and civil society perspective to assess the resilience of neoliberalism in Latin America.

1. Introduction

Chile is widely known as the first country subjected to far reaching neoliberal restructuring, a “real life economic experiment”, according to Arnold Harberger from Chicago, under control of a ruthless military dictatorship. Yet in order to fully understand neoliberalism in Latin America and elsewhere it is crucial to recognize the influence of organized neoliberalism before and after Pinochet, and to analyse the role of a transnational dimension stretching to Germany and Austria, as well as the United States (Fischer 2009). Argentina too had a comparably violent introduction to neoliberalism in the 1970s, but it is also crucial in her case to not completely identify neoliberal policy making with authoritarian rule. The currency board variety of neoliberalism embraced by president Menem and his finance minister Cavallo in the late 1980s went far beyond the directions of the so-called Washington Consensus (Plehwe 2011).

Neoliberalism in Latin America seemed to be a dead horse at the beginning of the new millennium as a result of the decade of intensified neoliberal restructuring in the 1980s and 1990s. The pink tide led by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales in Bolivia, “model K” in Argentina, and a Brazil led by Partido Trabalhadores leaders Lula and Rousseff has been the strongest evidence so far for those scholars who argue the crisis of neoliberalism is final, and it is time to look at the dawn of the post-neoliberal configuration (Sader 2008, Brand/Sekler 2009).

Alas, the Chilean success of the coalition for change led by present President Sebastián Piñera in 2010 seems to indicate that the victory of those who oppose the neoliberal transformation is not complete. A careful comparative analysis of Latin American varieties of capitalism during the past decades also suggests that there has arguably been more continuity than change with regard to the neoliberal reform era of the “Washington Consensus”, and not only in countries like Mexico or Columbia (Luna and Kaltwasser 2013).

How can we explain such resilience, or the comeback of neoliberal forces, leaders and recipes, in spite of the dismal record with regard to human rights, economic viability and social welfare? Of course the global division of labour and political power resulting from cross-border restructuring has locked in legal and other constraints. The “new constitutionalism for disciplinary neoliberalism” (Gill 1998) provides a certain amount of stability for the international economic order. But without local support the quasi “ultra-imperialism” (Kautsky) of the present age would implode in many countries, much like the Soviet empire in the late 1980s. Consequently we have to look for local forces supporting neoliberal orientations, even if they do not generate a lot of popular support in certain moments.

Neoliberalism is a comprehensive political and general ideological orientation, which has proven to be well organized and highly creative in the past – at least with regard to exploiting the contradictions of social liberalism, populism, and mixed or planned economies. Neoliberals have been able to combine a strong normative core and political flexibility, a well-orchestrated high level debate and a wide range of more or less pragmatic political projects. Compared to parochial political movements, neoliberals drew particular strength from creating and maintaining strong links across borders and from a new style of organization that relied to a greater extent on organizational networks than competing political forces (Plehwe and Walpen 2006).

A peculiar combination of think tanks, NGOs, and the networked machinery resulting from dedicated political campaigns was first described as a new political model advanced by the new Right in the United States by Saloma III (1984). Key to the elitist character of this mode of political operation in contrast to the traditional party model is the think tank capacity: think tanks substitute the bottom up processes of preference and opinion formation by way of their professional capacity to frame issues, and by developing story lines that deliver solutions to problems by way of suggesting explanations that are clear and easy to communicate. Such narratives are by no means exclusive to the neoliberal camp; competing discourse communities and institutionalized coalitions compete for public attention, of course. In order to observe their capacities and infrastructure, however, we need to look beyond the traditional political arenas of parties and parliaments.

In order to better understand the present position of neoliberal forces in contemporary political battles and (ideological) class struggles we will examine one dimension of transnational civil society and class formation processes, namely the sprawling neoliberal think tank networks in Latin America. After a short theoretical and methodological outline that guides our survey (section 2) we will look closer into the history of the Atlas Foundation network, the evolution of practices, and the present spread and scope of operations (section 3). In section 4 we will examine the formation of a variety of transnational networks with an eye to the multiple constituencies of neoliberal think tanks both from local and foreign origins. We will eventually conclude with an effort to generally assess the current state of neoliberal affairs in Latin America.

2. Theoretical and methodological considerations: studying neoliberal civil society formation

Rather than looking for coherent (national) models and big political leaders we argue the need for a civil society and class based perspective of transnational transformation and political change. Studies of organized neoliberals such as the research on the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) founded by Hayek and others in 1947 have been conducted to focus on the intellectual dimension of transnational class analysis in the neo-Gramscian tradition (Cox 1983). A more recent approach to examining the roles of discursive practices and networks in the re-structuring of social relations is cultural political economy (CPE), which examines the production of hegemony in terms of the making of political, intellectual and moral leadership in and through knowledge technologies (Jessop/Oosterlynck 2008).

Think tanks provide a crucial infrastructure and increasingly professional transfer capacity for their class based constituencies. As such, these institutions can be studied as nodes to observe the intertwined process of (trans-)national civil society and class formation. We operationalise think tanks for empirical purposes as units that combine expertise with consulting and lobbying or advocacy units. Think tank network studies conceived in this way look beyond the individual organization or capacity in isolation. Instead we are interested in the systematic linkages between economic interests (capitalist class elements), academic and other experts (intellectual class elements), media and other transfer professionals (cultural class elements) and the political class more narrowly conceived. Apart from the public manifestation of discourse we can thereby also approximate the elite coordination efforts that frequently precede public manifestations (Schmidt 2002). The conceptual tool of transnational expert, consulting and advocacy or lobby networks (or TECLANS for short) will guide our survey on neoliberal think tank networks in Latin America, which in turn help us to understand neoliberal hegemonic constellations (Plehwe, Walpen, Neunhöffer 2006).

Those who discuss the arrival of a post-neoliberal configuration have refrained from subjecting the neoliberal element in civil society to closer examination. On the other hand, publications like the Institute of Economic Affairs’ “Taming Leviathan. Waging the war of ideas around the world”, edited by Colleen Dyble (2008), feature the work of neoliberal think tanks that belong to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation network in 13 countries. While these reports may be dismissed as self-interested propaganda in some regards, they certainly do express the entrenched and organized endeavours carried out in neoliberal networks. Knowledge shaping efforts (Bonds 2011) include activities way beyond the policy related research and advisory functions typically attributed to think tanks. Bonds unpacks knowledge shaping as a) suppressing information threatening specific interests, b) setting up and funding institutions to produce expertise needed to reach specific goals, c) willingness to undermine state of the art knowledge if contrary to specific interests and d) attempts to control the administration and selection of viable knowledge in society. In order to be capable of influencing the knowledge and information hierarchy in any given society, social forces need organizations dedicated to wielding influence in public debates and discourses. If both opponents and supporters of neoliberalism sometimes appear to get carried away by the sweeping moment of government change, they confuse the power in government with power in (civil) society (Mirowski and Plehwe 2009).

When Lula was elected president of Brazil for the first time in 2002, neoliberals in Latin America feared the return of socialism. Lula’s re-election in 2006 and the electoral success of other left wing parties in Latin America heightened such anxieties on the right. In response to the concerns about the rising pink tide, Alejandro Chafuen wrote his article “Hope Amid Turmoil in Latin America?” for Atlas Highlights (Chafuen 2006). Chávez, Morales and Castro are invoked to express the frustration of the neoliberal right with the contemporary challenges. But in what amounts to nothing less than a Gramscian analysis of social power relations from a right wing perspective, Chafuen points to the comparable weakness of the neoliberal forces in Latin America back in the 1970s: seven neoliberal think tanks only in 1975 compared to the number of 35 for 2005; only ten universities with neoliberal professors compared to his count of 40 today; five “free-market” journals and magazines instead of twelve these days; plus seven radio and TV channels supporting the neoliberal cause compared to none in 1975. Chafuen’s message to the adherents of the Atlas network: Do not worry too much about the neo-socialist challenge, because you can rely on a wide range of neoliberal capacities which will be very difficult to destroy.

The “think tank model” of politics becomes particularly relevant in times of crisis. Think tanks provide a framework for debates on future strategies. Political leaders and intellectuals currently out of favour in the electorate find shelter in think tanks after having lost public positions, and they serve to recruit and train new personnel for the future. As Zibechi (2008) argues, representatives of the traditional Right have been replaced by figures from civil society as a consequence of the resurgence of the left. Transnational private organizations with links to local right-wing or neoliberal think tanks and parties are carrying out a continent wide ideological (counter) offensive. The hegemonic contest of the different Rights in Latin America consequently has to be analyzed within the wider context of a “war of position” (Gramsci).

3. The Atlas Economic Research Foundation: early history and activities in Latin America

Atlas was incorporated in 1981 by the think tank-entrepreneur Antony Fisher, the founding father of the British Institute of Economic Affairs. His aim was to institutionalize the process of helping start up new think tanks. For this purpose, Atlas provides support, e.g. financial resources, tools, training and allies, and distributes prizes and grants.

Over time, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation has become a central node in the transmission of funds, personnel and other resources in the transnational flow of neoliberal ideas and policies. The work conducted at neoliberal think tanks has subsequently developed a professional character. One of the more recent innovations at the Virginia based Foundation has been a leadership training program. The short program offers think tank executives the opportunity to learn the peculiar mix of skills and knowledge needed to successfully run a think tank, and “a global network of colleagues”. The next generation of Atlas educated think tank managers thus shares formative experience of education with social connections gained at think tank network meetings organized on a regular basis by Atlas and regional think tanks. An extended Think Tank MBA course has been introduced in 2006. Membership of the Atlas network has been growing fast since the 1980s. The Atlas global directory currently comprises of 448 institutions worldwide (including 79 Latin American think tanks). [1]

Networking with Latin American think tanks was high on the Atlas agenda. Support went to Hernando de Soto’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Peru, the Centro de Estudios en Economía y Educación (CEEE) in Mexico and to intellectual and business entrepreneurs in Venezuela, who later founded CEDICE (Centro de Divulgación del Conocimiento Económico para la Libertad). The single neoliberal think tank of that time in Chile had to wait for recognition: as Fisher missed the 1981 MPS meeting in Viña del Mar, he was unsure about providing support for the Centro de Estudios Públicos (Chafuen undated). Since 1991, Alejandro Chafuen from Argentina heads the umbrella think tank. The US trained economist, like many fellow think tank professionals a Mont Pèlerin Society member, was close to Fisher and Atlas since the mid 1980s.

According to their annual reports, Atlas has distributed worldwide approximately 30 million US-Dollars in the form of awards and fellowships since 2001. The Dorian & Antony Fisher Venture Grant goes to younger and promising institutes and provides them with up to US$100,000 over the course of three years. The Freda Utley Prize is worth US$10,000. It rewards the efforts of think tanks in “difficult parts of the world” that are most effective in disseminating their message. With the Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards (“Fisher Award”) the network rewards outstanding think tank publications. Finally, the Templeton Freedom Award honours two winners per year in eight categories. Each winner receives US$10,000. Adding all the prize money distributed in Latin America together, Atlas funded more than US$600,000 to the various recipients. All but US$50,000 were disbursed in the 2000s, and the money went to 45 organizations. Argentina stands out because 10 think tanks in Argentina received such support. CEDICE in Venezuela sticks out because this think tank alone received six prizes.

In addition to these programs, Atlas established special prizes for Latin American institutions in 2005, i.e. the Alberto Martén prize for social entrepreneurship, the Francisco Marroquín Award for student outreach, the Francisco di Vitoria Award for ethics and values, and, last but not least, the Miguel Kast prize for free market solutions to poverty, named after Pinochet`s mastermind and dedicated networker. This prize rewards institutes for developing “effective solutions to poverty” which are conceptualized as empowerment of micro-entrepreneurs. Following the ideas of Peter Bauer, one of the first neoliberal development theorists, that it is the state’s bureaucratic regulations that discourage the “natural entrepreneurial spirit” of Third World people, Chile’s Libertad y Desarrollo, Acción Emprendedora and Proyecto Invertir from Peru won the prize for enhancing entrepreneurial skills. In general, the new prize initiative can be seen as a support for the continent’s think tank network to counter “tendencies towards populism” and “protectionism”. Atlas supports its members through events, travel grants, training and fellowships especially in countries that are currently involved in trade (re-)negotiations.

Many different organizations operate across Latin America as a result of the coordinated efforts of the neoliberal right. It is most important to realize that the various think tanks listed are not stand alone operations. Due to the embeddedness of each of the organizations in a comprehensive network, the total is larger than the sum of the individual parts. We will therefore observe the evolution of intertwined Latin American networks further in the next section.

4. Think tank network formation: transatlantic, pan-American, Latin-American

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation is actively involved in the formation of new pan-American think tank networks (see graph below). One of them is the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research (HACER), established in 1996 and located in Washington DC. HACER focuses on the Hispanic Americans in North and South America. 105 think tanks belong to HACER, many of which also partake in Atlas network activities. Unsurprisingly, Atlas president Alejandro Chafuen serves on the HACER board. Chafuen’s fellow Argentinean economist, Eneas Biglione, serves as executive director of HACER.

HACER’s Latin American News section provides updated country reports and public policy papers. Information comes from the think tank partners in Latin America and is distributed in English and Spanish. In an extensive online library HACER offers neoliberal classics in Spanish from authors like Ayn Rand, Mises, Menger and Hayek as well as contemporary literature from key neoliberal intellectuals like Mario Vargas Llosa, Steve Hanke, Johan Norberg and Carlos Sabino. The organization also awards funding to political leaders and writers. Although the website informs that prizes are awarded every year, the target has not been met: up to now, only Álvaro Uribe has received the Simon Bolivar Award (sic!) (in 2010); and Álvaro Vargas Llosa and Marcos Aguinis won the US$2,000 Juan Bautista Alberdi Award in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The HACER project “Transforming the Americas” also seems not to be in great shape. Subcontracted by Atlas and Chile’s neoliberal think tank flagship Libertad y Desarrollo, HACER created a news blog on economic reform in Latin America with Chile serving as the role model. Except for a collection of articles (mainly on Chile) and the new English edition of The Economic Transformation of Chile written by Pinochet’s finance minister Hernán Büchi, however, not much seems to happen. Still, the advocacy of Chile as a role model for neoliberal development perspectives plays a critical role in a continent which has been more active than others in developing alternative approaches to neoliberal globalization, and at the same time has arguably suffered more from neoliberal experimentation than other parts of the world. Latin America remains a frontier region due to the sharp polarization between state led and market led versions of development.

While HACER offers a rich and easy accessible news and media program, a more academic pan-American forum is The Independent Institute (TII), more precisely its Center for Global Prosperity. The TII was founded in 1986 and runs six centres, which address public policy issues. The Institute has received six Sir Antony Fisher awards from Atlas so far. Research fellows conduct seminars for scholars, business leaders, media and policy makers; their work is published by prestigious publishing houses, and they also write for newspapers and appear in televised debates. The main policy issues are global warming (saying that global warming is uncertain) and the war on terror (TII argued in favour of targeted defensive measures and against interventionist wars).

Of special interest here is its Center for Global Prosperity, which was created with the aim of bringing together the intellectual, moral, and practical analyses necessary to find market-based solutions to poverty. It is responsible for the Spanish website, with all information offered in Spanish. The front person of the Center is the son of Mario Vargas Llosa, Álvaro. Also among the personnel we find neoliberal intellectuals such as Carlos Sabino from the Francisco Marroquín Foundation and Martin Simonetta from the Fundación Atlas Para Una Sociedad Libre (Argentina). Prominent advisors include Johns Hopkins University professor of applied economics and Cato Institute fellow Steve Hanke, domestic and global networkers from Argentina Gerardo Bongiovanni and Alberto Benegas Lynch, as well as UCLA professor and leading neoliberal development economist Deepak Lal. [2] But the present status of the Center is unclear. Published activities of the six centres ended in 2008.

Via HACER, Atlas is linked to the Red Liberal for Latin America (RELIAL), the network of the Liberal International (LI). In terms of party memberships and electoral success the LI is rather weak in Latin America. [3] This makes it even more important to nurture free market orthodoxy through think tanks and private research institutes. RELIAL was founded in 2004 with the help of the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty and runs an office in México D.F. It includes 45 liberal institutions from 16 Latin American countries (approximately one third of them are parties, two thirds are think tanks). RELIAL releases the Economic Freedom of Latin America Report and Index (since 2009/10). The current chairman is Otto Guevara, who achieved 21 percent of the vote in the Costa Rican elections of 2010; MPS member Gerardo Bongiovanni is a member of the board. [4]

While HACER provides the link to the U.S., the Madrid based Fundación Iberoamérica Europa (FIE) is the second member organization of RELIAL which is itself a networker and not based in Latin America. FIE is strongly linked to Aznar’s Partido Popular; his former chief press officer Pablo Izquierdo heads the organisation. [5] According to the website, FIE runs 400 projects and has distributed around 100 million Euros (including public funding from the PP ruled Community of Madrid), most of them in Latin America under the title “libertad y desarrollo”. According to Spanish newspaper El País, FIE received 4.3 million Euros in subsidies between 1999 and 2008. Almost one million went to partner think tanks in Bolivia. [6] In the case of Venezuela, 750,000 Euros were dedicated to “strengthen the institutional capacities of marginalised groups”, while 150,000 Euros went to like-minded think tanks, social leaders and young journalists. In Latin America, the ideological class struggle and armed struggle appear to remain closely linked in some cases in the 21st Century. FIE in any case appears to focus activities in the countries that constitute the strongest challenge to neoliberal economic policy – and Spanish direct investment.

FIE prides itself on initiating the Fundación Internacional para la Libertad (FIL). The organisation was founded at a seminar in 2003, when think tanks from Latin America and the U.S. came together in Spain because of an invitation from FIE. The organization is headquartered in Madrid but conducts its activities in a decentralized way. Atlas’s Templeton Leadership Fellow Mario Vargas Llosa leads the organization. On its board we find Latin American MPS members such as Bongiovanni and longstanding executive director of Libertad y Desarrollo (now minister in the Piñera government), as well as Cristián Larroulet, Chafuen and de Soto’s co-author Enrique Ghersi. While FIE, Timbro Sweden and some Spanish think tanks provide the “European connection”, the Atlantic link is strongly fostered by almost all important neoliberal U.S. think tanks, i.e. Cato, Heritage, Atlas and the, American Enterprise Institute. The FIE affiliated think tanks in Latin America strongly overlap with the Atlas network (see graph).

RELIAL of the Liberal International has its “counterpart” in Latinoamérica Libre, the smaller think tank network of the Unión de Partidos Latinoamericanos (UPLA). The regional party alliance UPLA was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Santiago de Chile. It gathers traditional conservative parties, parties that are linked to former dictatorships and new parties and movements from the (neoliberal) right. Members are, among others, ARENA (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista) from El Salvador, Bolivia’s Acción Democrática Nacionalista, Chile’s Renovación Nacional and Unión Demócrata Independiente and, to give an example for a new formation, PRO from Argentina (Moressi 2008). Since the millennium the alliance and their think tank network have devoted themselves to the struggle against the pink tide.

Chile’s Libertad y Desarrollo acts as a hub and ensures the web-appearance of the think tank alliance. Support in this case comes from the German CSU/Hanns Seidel Foundation, Aznar’s FAES – and Atlas. What is evident is a considerable overlap between the think tank networks RELIAL and Latinoamérica Libre. [7] This indicates, firstly, that it is the same political spectrum that promotes right-wing, liberal and neoliberal ideas. Secondly, it is precisely the think tank model that enables cooperation and networking not only across borders but also across party lines. While political parties of the right in many cases do not achieve alliances, their think tanks do. Part of the network activities across countries and party boundaries are joint trainings, conferences and summer schools. Cato is most active in this field (“El cato universities”). In this framework, a “national” think tank assumes the role of host and the above mentioned think tank networks – Atlas Economic Research Foundation and The Independent Institute in the U.S., Latinoamérica Libre in Chile, FIE in Spain and RELIAL in Mexico – support these events in the form of money, scholarships, speakers etc.

Networks Chart
Source: own compilation based on network website information, thanks to Benjamin Wodrich and Matthias Schlögl for their assistance. 95 members of Hacer, Atlas, FIL, RELIAL and Latinoamérica Libre are omitted from the picture, which features only think tanks that belong to a minimum of two networks. Circle size correlates with number of memberships.

Beyond the general overview over themes and links between networked organizations provided so far, the neoliberal think tank networks clearly deserve further research. There is, firstly, a need for systematic collection of additional data on the think tank population covering staff, output, joint activities, and linkages to corporations, academic institutions, the media and political organizations. A deeper analysis of the importance of the various nodes and of the overlap between persons and organizations will eventually take more than a quantitative internet-based study from afar can achieve. Depth analysis also requires a strong qualitative component based on interviews with think tank leaders and observers, as well as critics, and the tracking and tracing of processes involving networked think tanks and individual networkers.

5. Concluding remarks: think tank landscapes and the state of neoliberal affairs in Latin America

The think tanks in the Atlas network continue to work their traditional fields and national agendas: education, corruption, insecurity, social policy or other fields of public policy. The common concern, however, is the “rise of populism” and the “trend towards interventionism”. Think tank leaders such as Carlos Sabino, Mario Vargas Llosa and Alejandro Bongiovanni invoke the threat for democracy and for the rule of law. Indeed, the resurgence of the left has caused a crisis in the neoliberal Right. Neoliberal pundits perceive a serious challenge in Latin America from social movements and/or leftwing governments that act against the Right’s traditional core constituency and succeeded in (re-)placing the social at the centre of the political debate (Zibechi 2008).

The major response of the neoliberal right to these challenges is perhaps best understood evolving along two axes. On the one hand, a new social neoliberal right has emerged which aims to form a centre-right alliance. This wing currently aims at incorporating rights for indigenous people and social development into its program by emphasizing effective governance at the same time. In the words of Felipe Kast and his followers who founded the new think tank Horizontal in Chile: the first generation of neoliberals has built the ground floor, i.e. the institutional order. Now it’s time to build the first floor which gives the neoliberal project legitimacy. For the new Right in Chile that means enabling all members of the society to pursue opportunities for self-realisation (Amartya Sen’s paradigm of capabilities is definitely evident). In political terms, a “democratic, social and pragmatic” centre-right should be able to secure a majority in general elections and a liberal order.

On the other hand, a puristic faction recognizes in this move to the centre of “social neoliberalism” the danger of an erosion of neoliberal principles. Argentine Iván Petrella from Fundación Pensar and Hernán Büchi are just two proponents of this strand who “fear losing the battle of ideas” if this easy path of conformity is followed. In Büchi’s interpretation, the Chilean neoliberals won “the battle of ideas” in 1989: they lost the first presidential elections after the transition to democracy but succeeded in securing the societal model of the Pinochet era. Nowadays, he complains, it is exactly the contrary. It is the opposition that dominates the political agenda of the ruling Right and the public debate with its issues (Deslarmes 2010). Rather than softening neoliberal doctrines with an eye towards social inclusion, the hard liners vociferously oppose the trend towards nationalizing natural resources and the revival of tax regimes akin to the import substitution era.

It remains to be seen which of the two wings will be more successful in completing the major neoliberal tasks: securing the capitalist economic order in the ways necessary to weather the neo-socialist/-populist storms of the present day. Further research on neoliberal think tank networks will be critical to secure important information on the ways in which transnational expert, consulting and advocacy or lobby networks (TECLANS) are constructed to this end.

A Spanish version of the article will appear in Nueva Sociedad 245 (Mayo-Junio 2013),


1. Atlas Directory, last updated December 2012. (7.3.2013)

2. Details on research personnel and advisers at: (7.3.2013).

3. Contrary to this trend is the performance of two parties which can count on a considerable electorate in their countries: the Partido Liberal Radical Autentico from Paraguay and the Partido Patriota from Guatemala. There, PP candidate Otto Pérez Molina won the presidential elections in 2011. In June 2011 they were accepted as members with observer status.

4. Guevara is leader of the Libertarian Movement Party and the think tank ILPRO. Bongiovanni is founder and now President of Fundación Libertad Argentina. He is also co-founder of Fundación Pensar and founder and president of Red Libertad, an umbrella of neoliberal think tanks in Argentina. In 2002, he promoted the formation of Fundación Internacional para la Libertad (FIL) which he heads today (compare Plehwe 2011).

5. The Popular Party’s Honorary President José María Aznar has started bustling network activities with his Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales FAES, see: (7.7.2013)

6. At the end of 2009, the public prosecutor of Bolivia started investigations on the foundation. As numerous media have reported, law-enforcement authorities consider that the entity paid 250,000 Euros to mercenaries who intended a coup d’état and an attack against Morales.

7. Chiles Libertad y Desarrollo, the Instituto Ecuatoriano de Economía Política, Instituto Libertad y Progreso ILPRO (Costa Rica), Instituto Político Para la Libertad (Peru), Fundación Libertad (Panama), CIIMA/ESEADE and Fundación Libertad in Argentina belong to both networks: and (12.5.2012)


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Karin Fischer, Dr. phil, Department of Sociology at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria. Her interests include uneven development, global commodity chains and transnational class formation, with a special regional focus on Latin America.

Dieter Plehwe, Dr. phil, Research Fellow of the Project Group "Modes of Economic Governance" at the Social Science Research Center Berlin and co-founder of the Think Tank Network Research Initiative (