2023 Manwaring National Security Award to Alejandro A. Chafuen, PhD

Washington, D.C. – Thursday, January 19, 2023 | On its 10th anniversary, the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) awarded the Max Manwaring National Security Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Freedom in the Americas to Alejandro A. Chafuen, Ph.D., the founder of SFS and current international managing director at the Acton Institute and president of the International Freedom Educational Foundation.

Dr. Chafuen has spent his lifetime supporting a free society worldwide. From his time as the president and CEO of the Atlas Network from 1991 – 2018, Dr. Chafuen helped catalyze several prominent free-market think tanks in Latin America and elsewhere, many of which, became the intellectual support for market-oriented and U.S.-friendly governments throughout the region. Several intellectual entrepreneurs Dr. Chafuen helped and mentored during this time have gone on to become ministers, generals, Nobel laureates, and legislators in Latin America in support of the free society.

In 2004, Dr. Chafuen envisioned the SFS program within Atlas and continued to nurture its growth in 2012 when it became an independent center at the International Freedom Educational Foundation, to which he presided. Since then, Dr. Chafuen’s vision helped turn SFS into a top national security think tank focused on combating transregional threats in the Americas.

Dr. Alejandro “Alex” Chafuen sits on the board of several prominent charities, including the Chase Foundation of Virginia, Grove City College, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Fraser Institute (Canada), and was previously the president of the Philadelphia Society and is an Active Honorary Member of the Templeton Foundation.

On the occasion of the Western Hemisphere Security Forum, on January 19, Dr. Alex Chafuen provided remarks at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. after accepting the 2023 Manwaring National Security Award from the Center for a Secure Free Society.

The following is a transcript of Alex Chafuen’s acceptance speech:

I have avoided partisan politics for most of my life, but I once joined the foreign relations team of a political party with one the great public intellectuals of Argentina, Cuban-born, Armando Ribas. He became a Congressman for one or two terms in Argentina. He usually supported the United States, especially Reagan’s policies and Madisonian ideals. Because of this, the socialists in Argentina often accused him of being “sold to the CIA,” his answer was unique, “I wish I would be sold to the CIA. Unfortunately, I am donated.”

When I was 24, I received a scholarship to study under a disciple of Ludwig Von Mises at Grove City College. A military general who studied under an economist who also received a similar scholarship from the circles of the Foundation for Economic Education. This general once invited me to dinner and in a clear and friendly manner, he said: “from now on, you will not know how or why, your steps will be guided by the CIA.”

To this, all I can say is Thank you!

All jokes aside. On a more serious note, my work and that of SFS depend on friends and supporters like you, not government agencies.

Many of my friends may ask why I am receiving an award on national security and not free markets. To this, I respond that there is no true free market without security for life and property.

Most of you know I am now at the Acton Institute, winning the moral battles for a free society. The market is a superb process, but if people are immoral, the economic and political markets will flood the free market with junk and corruption. Free markets, Strong national security, and Sound morals are the basis and essential for the flourishing of a free society.

I started my intellectual battle for freedom during my late teens, when communists, using terrorist tactics, wanted to take control of Latin America. We had to be careful at home, even when taking the garbage out. My dad rose from a car insurance inspector to head Argentina’s Foreign Insurance Company Association. Police advised him to always carry a handgun; it would not save him; it would just bring him down a notch on the list of potential victims. He had a close call.

A few months later, the 18-year-old daughter of our family doctor and occasional hunting buddy blew up the apartment and killed the police chief. Thousands were killed and families destroyed, first by the terrorists, then by the abusive tactics of the counter-terrorist campaign.
Many of us who went through the seventies, especially victims, and those who shot many bullets to help win the cold war, never neglected security. But many thought that bringing down the Berlin Wall and dismantling the Soviet Union was enough. It wasn’t.

In the early ’90s, with Antony Sullivan at the Earhart Foundation, and Leonard Liggio, then President of the Institute for Humane Studies, we started an effort to work with friends of freedom in the Muslim world. We were blind to the threat from radical Islamists. When September 11th happened, I devoted half of my time to studying what we missed. It was then that I planted the seeds for SFS and when I began learning from some of you here.

But it was not until this young man [Joseph Humire] entered my office that I saw a chance for the success of SFS. He [Joseph] told me about his military background, experience in intelligence, and economics education, studying under the great Dr. Walter Williams. He had the training and attitude that could help build a network of intelligence and security experts around the world who, guided by the same vision of a free society, would help to make it safer and more secure.

So thank you all; it is an immense honor to receive this award named after Max Manwaring and succeeding Amb. Curtin Winsor, the second awardee.

If we want to avoid permanent war or the destruction of the United States, we will have to engage and win many more intellectual battles in economics, security, intelligence, and defense.

Thank you again, and Onward!

Alejandro A. Chafuen, PhD
International Spy Museum, Washington D.C.
Western Hemisphere Security Forum
January 19, 2023