A Gala for Liberty
The Independent Institutes Gala Reception and Dinner
Presentation of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
- David Theroux, President, The Independent Institute
- Reverend Alan Jones, Dean, Grace Cathedral
- Michael Boskin, Tully Friedman Professor of Economics, Stanford University
- William K. Bowes, Jr., Philanthropist and Founder, U.S. Venture Partners
- Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Senior Fellow, The Independent Institute
- Andy Garcia, Actor and Filmmaker
- George B. N. Ayittey, Professor of Economics, American University; President, Free Africa Foundation
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, 1984
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our program this eveningA Gala for Libertywith a presentation of the Alexis de Tocqueville Awards, which, as many of you know, are named for the nineteenth century political philosopher and author of the famous book, Democracy in America. My name is David Theroux, and Im the president of the Independent Institute. Were delighted to have you join with us tonight, and I hope that you will really enjoy our program this evening. For those of you who are new to the Independent Institute, the institute is a nonprofit public policy research organization that sponsors in-depth studies of major social and economic issues. The results are published as books and other publications, and form the basis of numerous conference and media programs.
More than 20 years ago, we founded the institute to examine the actual nature and consequences of government policy. But instead of succumbing to popular or political biases, trends, phobias, narcissism, or moral ambiguities, we are ever mindful that truth, goodness, justice, and liberty are not illusions. Indeed, there are certain nonnegotiable presuppositions upon which human inquiry, science, the rule of law, and free civilization rest. We seek to explore such matters and address important questions that might otherwise be ignored, including ones normally considered out of the box or controversial or politically incorrect, but which we believe may likely be not just crucial to our understanding, but which also enable us to get to real answers and long lasting solutions. As a result, the institute was founded to cut through the noise, spin, and special interest public policy debate in the U.S. and elsewhere.
In order to do so, we had to establish a new kind of instituteone of a kind, frankly, in the public policy field, which as many of you know is dominated by partisan advocacy groups of virtually every stripe imaginable. In our case, without the financial backing of any interest group, we became the first garage think tank.
And 20 years later, we operate with more than 140 research fellows in the U.S. and around the world. So we invite you to get to know us better. We hope that youll enjoy getting beyond the stereotypes of left and right, into the realm of innovative, bold ideas, and we believe that such ideas have the key to a brighter future. In your gift bag, for example, youll find the copy of a new book from us, edited by our Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa entitled, Lessons from the Poor, which chronicles enterprise and entrepreneurially based success stories of uplifting people out of abject poverty in Latin America and Africa, despite rampant corruption and government barriers of all sorts. Youll also find a copy of our quarterly journal, The Independent Review, and other information about our program.
In the course of our work, we also take special interest in recognizing individuals whose contributions are so unusual, so noteworthy, and so effective, that we believe they merit special attention. And tonights honorees are exemplary in this regard. However, before we begin, I want to note that in making tonights dinner possible, the assistance of many wonderful people was critical. First of all, were privileged to have had five world-renown figures who have graced us as honorary co-chairsJehan Al Sadat, the Dalai Lama, Lord Brian Griffith, Václav Klaus, and Muhammad Yunus. The dinner committee was co-chaired by six distinguished business leaders, who I also want to sincerely thankBob Alspaugh, retired CEO of KPMG International; Tim Draper, founding and managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson Associates; Bob Galvin, chairman of the board of Motorola; Mike Moe, co-founder and former chairman and CEO of ThinkPanmure; Bill Rutter, chairman of Synergetics; and Lisa Stevens, regional president of Wells Fargo Bank.
I also want to thank the many members of the dinner committee, each of whose participation really helped form the basis for tonights program. I also want to thank the people at Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates and Freemark Abbey Winery who have very generously provided the superb wines for tonights dinner, which well be enjoying; and in this regard, I want to express our special gratitude to our friend John Bryan. I also want to thank Hoogasian Flowers, which provided the beautiful flower table centerpieces. Sees Candies deserves our special thanks for generous donations of the fine chocolate confections. I also especially want to thank the John Santos Sextet. Werent they just sensational? I mean really.
I also want to thank our friends at the Exploratorium, our good friend Janine Vaughn, and videographer Jeff Lunzaga. But most especially, I want to thank JuliAnna Jelinek for overseeing our entire gala enterprise. If she would please stand. And also the team that she headed up, including Joseph Asbell and Abby Shepherd, if they would stand. In fact, if the entire institute could stand, because theyre all deeply involved in the project. I would also like to introduce a number of the institutes board members who are with us tonight, and if you would please stand. Gil Collins, Peter Howley, Isabel Speakman Johnson, Dieter Tede, and Mary Theroux. Were very grateful to you all.
Before I leave you to enjoy the rest of your first course, I want to refer you to your printed dinner program for tonights schedule. We just divided into three segments, or courses. Each course is dedicated to one of our honorees. We will break between courses or segments as will be shown on the screens that you see above. We also have question cards on each table for your use in submitting questions. Those of you with questions are asked to please have them ready to be picked up before the dessert course, and well have people circling during that time to pick up your cards. At this point, Id like to introduce my good friend, Reverend Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, who will come and lead us in the invocation.
Let us pray. Dear God, we thank you that you have planted in the human heart the longing for liberty. We thank you that you have shaped us for freedom, and of course, to rise up among us champions of the human spirit. Help us to discern libertys gift and freedoms burden by our understanding that no one is fully free while others are enslaved. No one enjoys the privileges of liberty without taking on its responsibilities, and these privileges push us to ensure that every member of the human family is truly free. We thank you for the power of this vision which has inflamed the hearts of courageous men and women throughout the ages down to our own dayfreedom fighters, artists, imaginative philanthropists, and lonely visionaries. As we seek to embody the four classic freedomsfreedom from want, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from feargive us that fifth and greatest freedom of all: the freedom of knowing that what we choose to do is in conformity with our inalienable dignity as human beings, that our freedom may not be squandered on the trivial, but placed in the service of the common good.
We ask for courage to fight for freedom and stand for liberty in challenging times. Even as vast impoverished and rapidly expanding populations, whose ways and values are only dimly understood, press up against our rich and seemingly ordered society. We affirm that the future may be germinating today, not in a board room in London or an office in Washington, or in a bank in Tokyo or Beijing, but in some remote outpost or othera kindly British orphanage in the grim foothills of Peru, a house for the dying in a back street of Calcutta, an easygoing French medical team at the starving edge of the desert, a mission to Somalia by Irish social workers who remember their own great hunger, a nursery program to assist convict mothers at a New York prison. In some unheralded corner where greathearted human beings are committed to loving in an extraordinary way, and in their very being are the bearers of liberty. May it be so. Amen.
President, The Independent Institute
Few can better discuss the significance of Bill Bowes and his work than our next speaker. Michael Boskin is the Tully Friedman Professor of Economics and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Hes former chairman of the Presidents Council of Economic Advisors. Michaels the author of more than 100 books and scholarly articles. He received his PhD here in the Bay Area in Economics at UC Berkeleymy alma mater. Good choice. And he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Adam Smith Prize. Michael Boskin.
Thank you very much, David, and before I begin my remarks about Bill, let me just congratulate you and The Independent Institute on all the important things you do. Liberty is not something to be taken lightly. Weve all had experiences in our lifetimemany of us, of my generation and younger, much fewer than people of Bills generation and olderabout what sacrifices people have had to make for that liberty in America. And that is being repeated around the world now in a variety of places. Youll hear a lot more about that as we progress through the evening, but again, congratulations David, and I thank all of you for being here to support the institute.
Its important for me to start off by saying that I usually demure when Im asked to do these sorts of introductions or comments. Ive had the opportunity to do many in my lifetime, and having been there and done that, I usually say no. Perhaps the most memorable in a list that includes some presidents and Fed chairmen and CEOs was that I once inadvertently had to introduce Dr. Ruth. But thats a story for another day.
But when David asked me to introduce William K. Bowes, Jr.Bill to uson the occasion of being awarded the Alexis de Tocqueville Award by The Independent Institute, I immediately and happily agreed. Especially since Bill is being honored not just for his important work in business entrepreneurship and science, which weve heard a little bit about and Ill remark on briefly, but also for utilizing market-based approaches to greatly enhance the welfare of people in the United States and worldwide, demonstrating that theres a role for government, but theres also a lot of good that can come from market-based solutions to peoples problems.
Bill, as we heard in the videoin which almost every remark Im going to make was presaged or said by those friends of oursis not only a tremendously successful venture capitalist and businessman, but also a remarkable human being. No, make that beyond remarkable. And for all his amazing achievements, some of which you heard, Bill remains humble and down to earth. Hes the last person who would seek praise, let alone revel in it. In fact, hes undoubtedly uncomfortable right now. But Bill, youll just have to grin and bear it, for you more than deserve it.
Ive known Bill for many years. He was the founder of one of Americas most prominent and successful venture capital firms, U.S. Venture Partners, where he and his colleagues brought real world business experience and ideas, as well as the capital, to the entrepreneurs they funded. He was a founding shareholder of Amgen, and the Amgen participant in that video perhaps didnt do Amgen enough credit. Its one of the worlds most important biotech firms. And Bill helped create not just a fabulous investment, but a firm that helps millions of people worldwide fight cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other disabling diseases. Bill is a remarkable philanthropist, bringing that business acumen, that intelligence, that scientific knowledge to such important institutions as the Exploratoriumwhere he recently stepped down as board chairmanthe Asian Art Museum, Grace Cathedral, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and UCSF Foundation, where he was chairman of the really important Mission Bay capital campaign that has proved to be such a success.
Now I have to start by saying that Bill had the best early training imaginable, preparing him for this beyond remarkable career. He has a BA in economics from Stanford. He served in the army infantry in the South Pacific and Japan during and after World War II, and Ill reluctantly add his MBA from Harvard, where he serves on the visiting committee at the Harvard Business School. Now we all have to be grateful for the forks we took in the road, and the ones not taken. Bills early career was at Blyth, Eastman Dillon, where he worked for about a quarter century. They merged with Paine Webber, now part of the Union Bank of Switzerland, known as UBS. And given the current, up to the minute state of major financial institutions, lets pause for a moment and give thanks for the path Bill did not take. Then again, if Bill had stayed on, maybe they wouldnt be in such trouble.
A famous poetT. S. Eliot. to be preciseonce said, The end of our exploration will be to arrive where we started from and to know the place for the first time. Bill has come full circle. I dont know whether this makes him a glutton for punishment, or whether what goes around necessarily comes around, but Bill now also serves on the board of the Hoover Institution and oversees a dozen Stanford economists. I dont know if any of them ever taught Bill back when he was an undergraduate. I doubt it. I know Bill best as a friend and Bohemian Club campmate. It was the membership of Bill and some other remarkable men of whats been called the greatest generation, some of which are here tonight, some of which youve heard from, that enticed me to join Hillbillies Camp. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made. How lucky Ive been to sharethough not enoughtheir friendship over the years, and to learn from the example Bill and these others have set in their careers and personal lives of living a life well and full, giving so much back to their friends and families, their communities, our nation, and indeed the world.
Let me conclude for a moment by sharing some insights into the man, Bill Bowes, in addition to what you heard in the video. Coming from academe, Im used to people having a strong opinion on everything, and letting you know it all the timewhether or not they know anything about what theyre talking about. Wind a professor up and you get a 50 minute lecture about any subject. Bills cut from a different cloth. He doesnt demand to weigh in on every single issue. Hes a good listener. He chooses his spots. Hes neither loud nor bellicose, and always soft spoken. But as has already been said, when he does speak, people listen, and they listen carefully. Hes always insightful, sometimes profoundmuch like de Tocqueville in Democracy in America. Always thoughtful, always careful, always a gentleman, and because of all that, he is supremely effective.
And lest I end on too serious a note, when I think of Bill, the image that first comes to mindin current vernacular, his homepage in my mindis always that big grin, that gentle smile, that great laugh. Thats another lesson Bill teaches by examplerelax, have some fun, you dont have to take everything so seriously all the time. Theres plenty of time for the serious, but also time to have some fun along the way. And thats how we should think about Bill receiving this wonderful award, in recognition along the way, a midterm grade. For there are many good deeds still up Bills sleeve, many great ideas percolating in his head, and many, many, many good times yet to share. So Bill, would you come up?
President, The Independent Institute
Bill, youve been a friend and an inspiration to us and to many peoplemore than I think any of us can countand we want to sincerely thank you for all of your work. And to express our gratitude, I want to take this opportunity to present you with our Alexis de Tocqueville Award. Its a small awardit can never duplicate the weight of what youve accomplishedand were just very grateful and honored to have the privilege of giving this award to you. Thank you very much. Michael, thats all you.
Well thank you, David, and thank you, Michael. I was hoping my wife heard all those nice words you said. She looked pretty surprised. I guess the key to what Ive been able to accomplish lies in the world of entrepreneurship. Everybody knows about Silicon Valley and changing the way the industrial scene looks, but theres another part of entrepreneurship, which is social entrepreneurship. I spent the last 15 years or so in that field, social entrepreneurship, making something from nothing. Something from nothing I think defines entrepreneurship, and for instance, a few years ago, a woman in New York decided that there should be a initiative providing mini-grants and mentoring to starving artists. Simple. Today, this year, 300 starving artists will be getting mini-grants and mentoringand more to come.
A few years ago, a woman in New Jersey decided that our school system would be well served by encouraging promising college graduates to spend two years in tough schools. This year, 3,000 of those college graduates will be spending timetwo years, at leastin tough schools. The performance in the schools has gone up measurably when these students are teaching, and whats really encouraging is that two thirds of these students stay on in teaching. They dont go back to industry. And they go on to become principals and on school boards and so forth. A few years ago, a retired executive from a big Silicon Valley company decided to devote the next 25 years of his life to early detection of cancer. Right now, its a thriving enterprise with collaborations nationwide, partnerships with great scientific universities, and Im sure that theyre going to help us detect cancer early. If you catch it early, its 90 percent curablemaybe more.
A few years ago, a dean of a department of biology in a very prestigious research institution decided that he couldnt move his field fast enough inside of academia. So he went outside of academia and started an institute, which is pushing the next generation of medicine, and hes moving much faster, I think, than he would have staying where he was. These are the kinds of things that I try to dig out and support, and its really fun. And I recommend it to any of you who are in the position to do so. Its more fun than golf, and its more fun than toys. So I thank you, David, and I thank you, Michael for being so kind. And particularly David for choosing me for this award. Its a true honor, and I do appreciate it. Thank you.
President, The Independent Institute
Our next speaker has witnessed repression firsthand in his own country, and Im delighted to introduce him to speak about our second honoree. Alvaro Vargas Llosa is Senior Fellow and Director at the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute. Alvaros weekly column is nationally syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, and his many books include Liberty for Latin America, The Che Guevara Myth, and Lessons from the Poor, which Ive already mentioned you have a copy of. Last year, he was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and he is currently completing the four part National Geographic documentary on Latin America entitled, Consequences. Alvaro?
Thank you, David. When I told my wife I was going to be sitting next to Andy Garcia and introducing him, she said I need two autographs. And I said, Why? You never ask me for even one autograph. She said, I need a replacement in case I lose the other one. So you can imagine Im approaching this introduction with a deep sense of humiliation tonight. A few years ago, I was living in London where one of my best friends was Cuban novelist Guillermo Cabrera Infante, the author of acclaimed books such as Three Trapper Tigers and Infantes Inferno. Guillermo had three passions: literature, his wife Miriam, and Cuba, his country of origin, which he had left for political reasons many decades earlier and where his books were banned and his name was unspeakable. Every couple of weeks or so, I would visit him in his house on Gloucester Road in South Kensington where Miriam, Guillermo, and I, surrounded by stacks of books, VHS videos, and old records, invariably spent hours talking about Cuba.
On almost every occasion, he would bring up The Lost City, a two-decade-old project on which he had been working to no avail. It had proved impossible to raise the capital necessary to produce a movie about Cuba in the 1950s seen through the eyes of a family torn, as every Cuban family at the time, by revolutiona revolution that would end up as the god Saturn, devouring its own children. He had an ally in that exotic enterprise, whose name invariably came up in the conversation: Andy Garcia. The actors passion for the project was no less hardened than Guillermos. In a stroke of poetic justice, Andy Garcia was finally able to put together the funds when Guillermo, frail and worn out, began to get very sick. My dear friend was able to see the movie, whose screenplay he co-wrote with Andy Garcia, just before he died. The film was produced in association with the actors production company, CineSon Productions, and Andy Garcia composed the original score and produced the soundtrack.
As many of you know, The Lost City tells the story of Fico, a nightclub owner in revolutionary Cuba, a country under a vicious right-wing dictatorship in which there was a high standard of living, by Latin American standards, at least, and a vibrant culture. But there was also a profound dissatisfaction with the corrupt political environment. The old regime was soon replaced with the tyranny that half a century later is still in place. Every aspect of that tragic story is captured in the film. Families ripped apart by force masquerading as idealism, acts of inconceivable personal cruelty, the obliteration of individual liberty, and the uprooting of millions of people from their land. And we see the intoxicating music of Benny More and the energy of rhythms such as Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Rumba, seeding their place to the rigidity and paralysis of censorship and fear.
What was particularly moving about that film was the fact that a Hollywood actor, who did not need to risk his reputation by undertaking a project certain to ruffle feathers in an industry that still sees Fidel Castro as a romantic revolutionaryand Che Guevara as a modern day Robin Hooddared to co-write, direct, and act in it at all. It was an act of courage and justice. The movie reminds us of the roots of the Cuban tragedy, namely the utter inadequacy of the countrys institutions and elites which eventually crystallized in the communist dictatorship. Cubas independence could have produced a successful republic, partly due to the local political culture, but with foreign obstacles placed on their ability to exercise self-responsibility, Cubans failed to substitute the rule of law for violence during the half century between the day when they obtained their independence and the time of Castros triumph.
The conservative movement that opposed independence never developed into a force for stable institutions, nor did the liberals who stood for an independent republic, civil rights, and upward social mobility evolve into anything comparable to the United States republican founders. Perhaps if Spain had not limited political rights after the Ten Year War from 1868 to 1878, the Liberal Party would have been worthy of the name. Perhaps if the United States had not tied the political hands of the early Cuban republic leaders, many of them capable of replacing the extraordinary José Marti, who organized the 1895 revolution, they would have emerged marginalizing the aspiring despots. But ultimately, it was the Machados, the Batistas, and the Castros who prevailed.
Like so many Cubans in the United States, or in Europe, for that matter, Andy Garcias defense of his home countrys freedom has put him at odds with a good part of the intellectual and cultural establishment. Unwilling to settle for the comfortable stereotypes of pseudo-liberals, who love to project their thirst of the exotic on Cuba, Andy Garcia, who left the island with his family in 1961 when he was only five years old, knows, as one critic who defended him put it, that in Cuba inner tubes were used in truck tires, oil drums for oil, and Styrofoam for insulation. And today they are used as floatation devices to flee the glorious liberation while fighting off hammerheads and tiger sharks on the way to the Florida Keys.
Like hundreds of thousands of Cubans, Andy Garcia moved to the United States not because his family wanted to, but because they had to, and they prospered in this country. His father was able to build a cosmetics business while suffering the indignity of seeing many American politicians, writers, and activists celebrating the regime that expelled his mother, an English teacher, his father, a landowner and attorney, his brother, and himself from the land of their ancestors. As he himself likes to say, Andy Garcia decided to become an actor after he contracted mononucleosis and gave up his athletic aspirations. He started to act while at Florida International University. From there, he went to Hollywood where after working as a waiter, he got his break in the TV series, Hill Street Blues, after a casting agent saw him perform in an improvisational group at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. That was followed by his roles in Blue Skies Again, The Mean Season, and 8 Million Ways to Die, which in turn led to the part that turned him into a starAgent George Stone in The Untouchables. In 1990, his reputation achieved new heights when he played the unforgettable Vincent Corleone, the grandson of Vito Corleone, in The Godfather: Part III. But his film career, which landed him a dizzying succession of major roles over the years in movies such as Internal Affairs, When a Man Loves a Woman, Night Falls on Manhattan, and the Oceans 11, 12, and 13 series, never weakened his loyalty to Cuba and his defense of human rights.
The idea of human rights is one that has become very confusing in modern times because it has come to mean many things to different people, and power politics and statist ideologies are manipulated to fit their goals. Theres a big debate about the origin of human rights, but whether we trace their roots back to Hammurabis code in a Samarian city state more than 4,000 years ago, to Cyruss cylinder 2,500 years ago, to Magna Carta, to the United States Declaration of Independence, or even William Lloyd Garrisonwho mightve been the first to use the exact phraseall of us in this room know exactly what we mean by human rights. And so does Andy Garcia, who has denounced the oppression of the Cuban people time and again.
But therere other ways in which he has stood for human rights. One of them is the rescue of his countrys cultural heritage against the Cuban governments efforts to replace it with its own fraudulent version. As one of the most famous and beloved members of the much misunderstood Miami community, one that is as pluralistic, tolerant, free spirited, and jovial as any in the United States, even if it does have its share of craziesand Ive lived thereAndy Garcia has paid homage to his fatherlands artistic legacy in movies such as Cachao: Like His Rhythm There Is No Other, a tribute to legendary Mambo composer Israel Cachao López, that marks his directorial debut; or For Love of Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, the tale of the acclaimed jazz musician who fled Cuba in order to pursue his careera movie whose score and soundtrack he also produced. His record label has put out outstanding Cuban music, some of which he performs himself.
Andy Garcia spends time in Miami, mostly summers, and is married to a Cuban, Maria Victoria, with whom he has four children. He embodies that nostalgia of the lost city that is the hallmark of the Cuban exile communitya sentiment so powerful that it is transmitted from generation to generation, and transmitted in such a way that even a five-year-old boy with no personal recollection of where he was born grew up to make it his. It constitutes a creative longing for what is no longer, strictly speaking, a real Cuba, but one made of memory and imagination, which makes it perhaps even more real. There is, of course, no way of bringing back to life the more than 10,000 Cubans who, according to Cuban archives, have perished under Castro through executions or imprisonment, or the many more who never made it to the Florida Keys. According to various estimates, one in four rafters never makes it. And there is no way to give back to those whose lives were spent in the moral and material wasteland of the tyranny their lost years. But people like tonights honoree also remind us that there are things that no totalitarian system can take away from the people over whom it lordstheir love of freedom is one of them.
Andy Garcia does all of this with elegance and respect for his fans. Unlike so many Hollywood stars who parade their private lives in frivolous ways, he protects his family from the prying eyes of the media. We must thank him for defying the modern cult of gossip that turns moral and intellectual hierarchies upside down to make what is secondary all important and demean what really matters. In doing so, he reminds us of the treasure that is each persons personal reality. We dont know when Andy Garcia will be able to go back to the country from which he was taken away, or when his countrymen and women will be able to watch his movies, including The Lost City, but one thing is certain: No matter how much more time passes until that is possible, one day his fellow Cubans on the island will be thankful for all that he has done for themand for what is yet to come, including the films he recently completed, City Island and New York, I Love You.
He has won many awards as an actor, director, and producer, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination, the Harvard University Foundation Award, three ALMA Awards, two Imagen Awards, and the inclusion of his star in the Walk of Fame. But tonight, we want to thank him for his devotion to liberty, for being that rare combination of the cinematographic imagination and civic virtue, and for the inestimable way in which he has preserved the artistic heritage of which he himself is a stalwart heir. The Independent Institute is proud to add to the list of honors with which his career has blessed him by distinguishing him with the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for being a champion of liberty and human rights. Thank you.
President, The Independent Institute
Thank you. Andy, youve devoted your life, as Alvaro has pointed out, to excellence in film and music and far more; and youve gone far further, incredulously using your talent and public stature to boldly champion civil and economic liberties and overcome the plight of the Cuban people under communism and any form of tyranny. And to express our gratitude, I want to present you with the Alexis de Tocqueville Award. Its an honor and privilege to have all of our honorees with us this evening, and an honor to be able to provide this kind of recognition, which again only touches and scratches the surface of what we owe to them. So thank you.
Thank you very much. This is very difficultto follow such eloquent words from a great writer I respect deeply, Mr. Vargas Llosa, who comes from a great tradition, as we all know, of writers, and also a family, that has stood up against tyranny and the lack of freedoms around the world, including Mario and Alvaro. There was, I guess, only one thing that I found maybe slightly inaccurate in terms of what Alvaro says. When I left Cuba when I was fiveat five and a halfit was about two years after Castros takeover of the country. I left with many memories, and I think that because for some reason once someone immigrates, or in our case are exiled into a country, you begin to realizeat first, I thought we were just going on a vacation! It was presented to me as if were going to Miami. I thought it was just a trip. Obviously I had never been outside of Cuba, but it seemed like we were just going on a trip.
But once it became a reality in my mind, as a young man, that we werent going backexcuse me. I think that you begin to protect those memories, and those images. But in a way, I was fortunate, even though I had not left the country that I cherished so much and I was able to come here. Because the reality is, this country afforded me everything that had been taken away from me. When I was about five, my father came home. By then, all the properties had been nationalized since 1961 and a half, and Castro had betrayed all his promises of the restoration of the constitution, elections, and all the things that supposedly were part of the manifesto of the anti-Batista rebellion. He had solidified power and declared himself a Marxist, or, as we now know, more of a Fidelista than anything else.
But he passed a law in which you gave up the rights to your children to the state. State education was quickly turned into indoctrination, and a very youngI think it was 12 years oldmilitary obligation. And my father came home and my mother said to him, I saw your son marching and singing The Internationale, which is a great irony because throughout this time Castro was having diatribes about anti-American imperialism and Cuba Si, Yankee No, and American influences over Cuba; and yet, through the backdoor, he was letting Russian imperialism walk right in and take over the country. And I was marching. She caught me marching and singing, humming The Internationale at the age of five, and I hadnt even been in school yet. And shortly thereafter, we gathered the familywe came first, my father followed. He was involved in the Peter Pan Project, which, for some of those who dont know, is an organization through Monsignor Walsh in Miami that allows parents of Cuban children who could not leave the country to send their children ahead through the Catholic Church to foster homes in America, to hopefully reunite with them. Some did. Some never saw their children again, but they did not want their children to grow up under that system.
So my father stayed behind because he was one of the lawyers who were helpingin that time falsifying visas to get children out of the country. And he sent us ahead, and then eventually came on a flighton a Peter Pan flight, he told us. He brought two children on the flight and asked the pilot, who was a friend of his, to save him a seat, and under the pretext of walking the children onto the flight, he stayed on the plane and came. So I guess I am the beneficiary of Americas great generosity, all the things that we were deprived of in Cuba, and the sacrifices my father and mother made for me to have this opportunity. So I cannot take credit for anything Ive done because I believe its the system that creates and gives the opportunities for those who dream that slowly, one step at a time, you can achieve those dreams.
And I go around the world, and Im constantly asked about Cuba, and the one thing that not only frustrates me, but continually fascinates me in a way, is that people have a perception of Cuba that is based on the very propaganda that the Castro regime has been putting out for the past 50 years. And when you try to simply explain to them what the system is about and whats going on, they go, Really? I didnt know that. And as we all know, over the years theres been extraordinary support, and a blind eye, thats turned towards the regime, and the atrocities of that regime. Therere problems all over the world, as we all know, and I dont say that Cubas problems are greater than things that have been going on all over the worldin Africa for decades, and much longer than even Cubabut the reality is that for some reason Cuba and that regime catch a break. They seem to permit that. They seem to celebrate the fact that he stands up against America; and that is a popular enough cause for them to look and turn a blind eye to all the things that he does. And its a very frustrating thing for those of us who know the reality of whats going on in Cubaits a very painful reality in which I live in.
The movie, The Lost City, I looked at as a movie that had all the classical elements of all the great films that I grew up with: a time of dramatic historical transition, music, dance, conflicts within a family, impossible love as a central metaphoryou can love her but you cant be with her. And these are the makings of movies like Dr. Zhivago, and a lot of the great movies. But for some reason, my movie became sort of like the most difficult thing for anybody to embrace. For 16 years, not one studio in the United States would embrace the idea of giving any money to distribute the movie. Even at the peak of whatever popularity I had been able to achieve in my lifeat the peak of that, with actors like Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman and everybody supporting me in the moviethey would not support it. I made the movie independently with the help of private equityby the way, Mr. Bowes, I will be approaching you for some. If you want some venture capital, I got an idea for you, and you will have the greatI dont know if itll be the privilegebut youll have the honor of being the only person that would be interested in the movie.
But I found one of those people. He believed in me and the film, and through that support and $9 millionshot in 35 days and prepped in four weeks, which is insane for a movie which is a period piece set in Cuba, and not being able to go to Cuba to shoot itwe made the movie. We started approaching major festivals around the world to show the movie. The first one we approached was Toronto Film Festival. I get a word back from the distributor, who was a foreign distributor, saying they called. They said halfway through the movie they thought the movie would open the festival. Then once the movie was over, it was a pass. And I go, We went from opening the festival to a pass in the context of two hours? And I said, Oh I see. I see the first half of the movie, it was the anti-Batista rebellion, and the second half of the movie was Fidel Castros betrayal of his own revolution. Oh, I see. I get it now. And it began like that.
Festivals all around the world began to pass on the film. Festivals that I had been to with many other movies. And there was one gentleman who did not pass, and hes here tonight, Mr. Tom Luddy from the Telluride. And he honored us with the opening night of the Telluride film Festival, and a tribute to Cabrera Infante who had passed away. And we showed the movie, I believe it was six times, which I think, Tom, if you correct me, was maybe like a record in the festival, correct?
Actor and Filmmaker
Because of the demand, you were able toif people want to see the moviekeep screening it, and we ended up having to show the movie six times. Every major distributor in the American film business in here was there, but no one bought the film. There wasnt one Cuban at the festival; oh, there were about 10 Cubans, the members of my cast who went, but other than that it was an American cinephile audiencemostly, I would say, liberal. Everybody loved the movie, but yet no distributor would jump on the film. One woman from Magnolia Pictures who was in their HD network saw it and says, I love this movie. I went to our Cuban and his company, and there was only the little bite that came out of the festival, and slowly we pursued. It was the only distributor that was willing to stand behind the film.
The film now has been seen all over the world, and it has been seen in Cuba clandestinely. It has been pirated as DVDs all through Cuba. I get a lot of feedback about that, and, again, I said to David, this is the curious thing that I learned. I dont mean to go on, because Im probably taking too long here, and Im so honored to be in the same company as William and Bishop Tutu. I realized that because Ive shown the movie so much to people who have no issues about Cuba and find the movie to be completely just like any other well-balanced historical picture like Schindlers List. It was a very curious thing for me because I had never experienced that kind of deep animosity toward my work in a way.
I just got back from Cuba, and then I was there at the party about a half an hour ago. And I just got back from Italy two days ago, and I was doing some interviews there, and again I found myself in a position where Im trying to educate people of whats going on; because truly, people do not know either the history of Cuba, what went on in Cuba, or whats going on in Cuba right now. And theyre still being somehow fed this sort of false information. And so I celebrate the Independent Institute providing a forum for that type of education, because ultimately therere societies and countries all around the world where we need to know whats going on. And as José Marti said, liberty is something that you must be able to sacrifice your life for; and for those of us who have had liberty taken away from us, we know its true value. And as a proud American with the opportunity to pursue my dreams and speak my voice, which is why my parents brought me here, thank you.
President, The Independent Institute
Im very pleased to present our next speaker. Born in Ghana, George Ayittey is a distinguished economist in residence in the Department of Economics at American University in Washington, and president of the Free Africa Foundation. His many books include Africa Unchained, Africa in Chaos, The Blueprint for Ghanas Economic Recovery, Africa Betrayed, and Indigenous African Institutions. Professor Ayittey.
Well, first of all, let me thank the Independent Institute for organizing this event. I think you all agree that this event is really worth it, and that the Independent Institute needs to be supported for this. And I have a confession to make, and that is that I was going to begin this speech with a little joke, but after listening to Andy Garcia and his emotional presentation, I thought that liberty is not an issue that you joke around with. If you have suffered oppression, you really understand what it is to be free. So I canceled the joke that I was going to tell. It wasnt funny anyways. But Im very, very, and profoundly honored to be paying a tribute to a great man, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom I have profoundly admired and always taken to be my hero. And as many of you know, in the pantheon of great African liberation heroes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stands tall and unique. And many of you know and associate his work with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. But theres far more to this great man than just the struggle against apartheid, and Ill get to that in a minute.
Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, he was ordained as a priest in 1960. Then he went to Britain to study theology, and returned to South Africa, where he became the Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches in the early 1970s. He burst into the political scene after the Soweto Riots in 1976. The riots were provoked by an attempt by the racist National Partys government to use Afrikaans as the main compulsory medium of education in black schools. Archbishop Desmond Tutu rallied to hold public opinion against oppression in South Africa. And it is important to notice that during this particular time the ANC was in exile, and Nelson Mandela was in prison.
So Archbishop Desmond Tutu in effect was the Lone Rangerthe lone black African voice with moral authority for the struggle against apartheid. I mean he vigorously challenged the constructive engagement policies of the Reagan administration and advocated for disinvestment against South Africa. A lot of people criticized him for saying that sanctions against South Africa will hurt the black people, and its a war even if its black people, but there will be suffering with a purpose.
For comparing apartheid to Nazism and communism, his passport was twice revoked, and he himself thrown into prison briefly in 1980. But the world paid attention to his struggles and rewarded him with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Two years later, he assumed his presidency of the All Africa Conference of Churches, and this provided him with a platform to launch the champion against apartheid from African capitals, which culminated in the formation of the Frontline States Against Apartheid in South Africa. Then he was also able to organize more than 3,000 people in protest in Cape Town, which within months, brought about the release of Nelson Mandela. And as you all know, elections were subsequently held, the ANC won those elections, and Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa. He appointed Archbishop Desmond Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
Now, dear Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for your courageous fight against oppression and injustice, we salute you. We are very much proud of you, and Im one of those who have followed you; and there are so many of us who are sincerely following in your footsteps to advance your cause, and who would like to assure you that well carry your cross much farther.
Mr. Chairman, dignitaries, ladies, and gentlemen, as I said in the beginning, theres far more to Archbishop Desmond Tutu than this very incomplete biography indicates. His great contribution to African liberation transcends us. He was the only one of the great African heroes who recognized that oppression is oppression regardless of the skin color, the ideology, the sex, or religion of the oppressor. He was the only one. To you it might sound obvious that this is how it should be. But that wasnt the case in postcolonial Africa. Because much of the worldand I can relate to all of Garcias pointsdefines freedom in racialist terms. In the world, especially in the Western World, it was often assumed that, well, because Africa has put an end to colonial rule, Africans must be free. You and I know that is patently false. The fact of the matter is that true freedom never came to Africa. See, what we did in Africa was trade one set for another set. We traded white colonialists for black neocolonialists. And the oppression and the exploitation of the African people went on unabated. That wasnt true freedom. As a matter of fact, independence was in name only.
Now, in the West, you couldnt say this because political correctness stood in the way. You couldnt condemn the atrocities of black African leaders because if you did so, and if you were a white person, you were called a racist. And African Americans also shied away from criticizing black African leaders because they wanted to express racial solidarity with them. So nobody would touch black oppression in Africa. And in Africa, we couldnt also criticize the oppression of black African leaders against their own people. Why? Because their leaders were afflicted with what I call intellectual astigmatism. They could see with eagle-eye clarity the oppression perpetrated against black people by the whites, but they were hopelessly blind to the atrocities and the injustices meted out against black people by their own black African leaders.
Now, this double standard is was what has caused the ruination of postcolonial Africa. Its an abominable double standard. When Idi Amin was butchering Ugandans at the rate of 100 per day, nobody lifted a finger to condemn it. The world kept quiet. Had that many African giraffes been slaughtered, you could have imagined the uproar in the whole world. Now this double standard is preventing the black African leaders from criticizing the abomination that we have in Zimbabwe today. Why arent they criticizing Mugabe? Two reasons. The first, they want to express that theres an African solidarity which says that it is a taboo for one African leader to criticize another. Then there is a second reason. The second reason is that these leaders themselves are doing exactly the same thing against their own black people in their own black African countries, so who are they to criticize Mugabe? Out of the 54 African countries, only 16 of them are democratic. So who are they to promote democracy in Africa?
This is the hypocrisy, and the painful truth, which has been raging across Africa. These were the leaders who were marching out of South Africa to demand one man, one vote, which the blacks should have. But they themselves had instituted in their countries de facto apartheid regimes against their own black people. Archbishop Desmond Tutu saw this hypocrisy and railed against it. May God bless him.
Apartheid by definition, or in essence, means exclusion or separation. Its a system of government where a group has monopolized both economic and political power and uses that to advance their interests to the total exclusion of everybody else. Now, well, let me tell you something. I got news for you. This was exactly the same type of governance we had in the rest of Africa. In South Africa, it was the whites who monopolized political and economic power to advance their interest and exclude the blacks. We all knew that. In Sudan and Mauritania, it was the Arabs who monopolized both economic and political power, and used that to advance their interests and exclude the blacks. In Rwanda and Burundi, it was the Hutus and Tutsis who monopolized political power and then practiced tribal apartheid. Elsewhere in Africa, there was one political party which monopolized political and economic power and used that to advance their interests and their one party system.
Then we had the Group B military dictatorships, which monopolized economic and political power, and used it to advance their interests. Their military generals, for example. I notice this. The military has been discouraged in Africa. All these countries that have imploded in recent years in Africa were all ruled by military generals. Rwanda, military general: Juvénal Habyarimana. Somalia imploded in 1991General Siad Barre. Burundi: General Pierre Buyoya. Liberia: General Samuel Doe. Sierra Leone: General Joseph Momah. You can go down the list of these countries which have been ruled by military generals. Lets not talk about Nigeria, which is just military generals that have reduced the once promising giant of Africa to a midget.
Now, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the very, very fewhes an exceptionwho recognized that a political system such as those that were established in postcolonial Africa were far more tyrannical than the hated colonial systems that we had. But of course, he couldnt say this. But for his courage in saying this, he shed some light for many of us. And it was for this reason that I dedicated by first book, Africa Betrayed, to him. And I quoted him extensively in my book. And Id like to read you a few of these quotes, because the feel of the quotes provides insight into the sort of political systems, oppression and tyranny we have suffered in postcolonial Africa.
Now first of all, let me read you this from the Nairobi Africa Conference of Churches in December 1987. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that it is sad that South Africa is noted for its vicious violations of human rights, but it is also very sad to know that in many black African countries today, there is less freedom than there was during that much maligned colonial period. This is what he said in 1987. Now, he repeated this same statement a year later at the All Saints Cathedral in March of 1990. He lamented finding that theres even more freedom in the much maligned colonial period that in many African countries today
African leaders need to be reminded that there is totalitarianism and despotism nearly everywhere in Africa. And he reminded them that when your people are free, then you can also walk freely. You will not need huge security to protect you. Thats what Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in 1990.
Now he was also really against this oppression of freedom of expression, and he has said this. And please listen carefully. In a speech to Oxford University in 1990, he said this. On the whole, when we in modern Africa have not been able to accommodate defenses of opinion. When you differ from somebody, if you dont agree . . . with every point of view, then this is taken to mean that you are the enemy. And that is not how it is in traditional Africa. In traditional Africa, a chief was a good chief because he was able to work out the consensus, and that consensus was arrived at because people had different points of opinion.
And I have to confess that there is fundamental weakness that we have at this present time. Out of the 54 African countries, only eight of them have an independent and free media. Now, this is the type of struggle that we need to continue in Africa. In Africa we need to promote further, not just political freedom, but also intellectual freedom and economic freedom. And I like to assure the great African heromy great African herothat he should rest assured that we will continue with the struggle to make Africa totally free. Thank you very much.
President, The Independent Institute
Archbishop Tutu, when others had little or no vision, integrity, and hope, you stood virtually alone for truth, liberty, reconciliation, and peace. Your leadership provided the courage, inspiration, stability, and harmony that was needed among people who were brutalized and consumed by fear. And its indeed an honor for us to present you with the Alexis de Tocqueville Award.
Thank you very much.
President, The Independent Institute
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, 1984
Thank you. Thank you so very much. Mr. President and Professor George, thank you. I was warned to be relatively brief, and I usually tell people, You must be looking for a miracle. You have a preacher and a podium with a captive audience, and you expect what? Ive told the story of this preacher who went on for a very long time. At last he said, What more can I say? And somebody in the back of the church said, Amen. Thank you so very much for this great and prestigious award that you have given me, and may I congratulate my fellow honorees. Its wonderful to stand in their reflected glory.
I normally say that awards of this kind I receive in a representative capacity. Professor Ayittey said some wonderful things, but he would be the first to admit that when you are in a crowd and you stand out in that crowd, it is only really because you are being carried on the shoulders of others, that there were very many of us who risked many things. But in fact, I and my family did not suffer as much as so many others did. I spent only one night in jail. When you compare to, say, 27 years, its piffling. When you think of the many who were tortured, many who had to go into exile, many who were killed brutally, yes, I was very greatly blessed. But I often say that I was a leader at a time really by default, because our leaders were either in jail or in exile or had been restricted in one way or another. But dont go away with the idea that, Oh, isnt he nice? Hes so modest. Hes nothing of the sort. I visited West Point Military Academy with my wife on one occasion, and at the end of the visit the cadets gave me a cap to commemorate the visit. And I tried the cap on and it didnt fit. A nice wife would have said, the cap is small. My wife said, His head is too big.
Just perhaps one or two thoughts about all of us, that we have a world that has been haggard by conflict, and a great deal of that is when people are retaliating or think they are retaliating. You think of what happened in Bosnia, that theyre fighting, or were fighting, about something that happened several centuries ago, but its become part of their history. Professor George referred to Rwanda. I had the privilege of preaching soon after the genocide. The new government invited me to come and preach. And I said their history, in many ways, was very easy to illustrate because it was a history of top dog and underdog. At one time, the Hutu would be the top dog, and the Tutsis would be the underdogs. The underdogs want to be top dogs, and when the previous underdogs becomes top dogs, they pay back for either what happened to them, or they imagined happened to them. And you have that cycle almost inexorably, and you know what happened in Northern Ireland until recentlythe Roman Catholics and the Protestants.
We were incredibly blessed in South Africa to have had at a crucial time in our history this extraordinary man, Nelson Mandela, who by the way was not a magnanimous, compassionate person. When he went to jail, he was young, and the 27 years that many of us reckon is a waste of time was important in the evolution of Nelson Mandela from beingif you rememberthe commander-in-chief of the military wing of the ANC. And it was in jail with all of the sufferingsuffering either makes you bitter or it ennobles you. But we were very lucky that he was at the helm of our ship of state. And where people had expected an orgy of revenge and retribution, I think people to some extent were awed by the spectacle of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission. By the way, we didnt invent it, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They had happened in other countries, but ours had at least two novel featuresone was that all of its proceedings were public, and second, it was the first commission that could grant amnesty to perpetrators.
Well, it was quite clear that had we sought to follow the path of retributive justice we would not be standing here, as it were, celebrating a South Africa that has become free and democratic, because all that would have done would have been to provoke this cycle that we have seenyou see it in the Middle East. You know as sure as anything that you will have a suicide bomber do something in Israel, and you know you dont have to have a degree, as they say, in rocket science to know that there is going to be a reprisal. And there will be a reaction one day to that reprisal, and it just goes on and on and on. And when peace comes, dont we always ask, But why were we so stupid for so long? Because as someone was saying to me, everyone knows what peace is going to look like in the Middle East. And you say, But then why should we have so many, so many deaths between now and then? I want to stop. Because I think one of the videos, as it were, stole my thunder. Imagine that you have not seen it. And I know that youre all very nice people.
I had thought that what I was going to take away, or most of us would take away, from a two, three year experience of listening to harrowing testimony, was this desperately traumatizing thought: How awful human beings can be. We have this extraordinary capacity for evil. When someone can come and testify and say, Weve even drugged Kofi We shot him in the head. And we burnt his body. And it takes maybe eight hours for a human body to burn. And whilst we were watching his body burn, we were having a barbecue, drinking beer and burningwell, burning two kinds of flesh. And you say, What could have happened to the humility of people who would sink to such low levels? And you realized, yes, actually it speaks about each one of us that each one of us has the capacity even for that kind of evil. All we can say is, There but for the grace of God go I. Because none of us could ever predict what we could do, because therere people who were involved in the Holocaust who would throw babies into gas chambers and ovens. Didnt have horns. Didnt have tails. They were just ordinary human beings like you and me. They went to church. And the people who torturewho used to torturewho were part of death squads in South Africa, well, they were often respectable members of the community.
So yes, we each have this incredible capacity. But that was not what one took away. I marvel that what Ive taken away, and I think my colleagues have taken away, is an exhilarating awareness. Its quite surprising what you take away; what weve taken away is the fact that people can be so magnanimous, so incredibly generous. People who by rights should have been consumed by bitterness, and almost lusting for revenge, doing nothing of the sort. Many, many times I used to say, after we listened to the testimony of a victim, I would say, Let us keep quiet, for we are in the presence of the holy. We ought to take off our shoes, for were standing on holy ground. It was incredible. Gave you goose pimples. But it is what it says about you, that you have an incredible capacity for good. Let me just tell you one story, and then I will sit down.
Three of us were asked to be a panel in Northern Ireland. One was a professor from HarvardProfessor Hicks, Donna Hicks. And another was a Scottish woman who had married a Rwandese who had been killed in the genocide. And the three of us were part of a BBC program series, Facing the Truth, and we had something akin to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Northern Ireland. And it was extraordinary that the people came, where there was nothing they were going to get for perpetrators. There was no amnesty. In fact, one of the people who came had already served 30 years in jail. And the victims would get nothing. But they came. They came. And I want to tell the story of one police officer who lost both arms in an IRA bomb outrage.
He came with his family, and the IRA man sat over there. And the IRA man described his life, described how hed been born into a ghetto because of the discrimination against Roman Catholics that happened there, described the deprivation that he had experienced, and then finished. And we waited with some apprehension for the response of this man who had lost both arms. It kept quiet for a while, and then he looked the IRA man in the eyes and said, If I had had your experience, if I had lived as you had lived, I think I wouldve done what you did, speaking about blowing off his hands, his arms.
Thats what you are. That incredibly, weyou and Iare made for goodness. And when we see the extent of evil there is in the world, we almost forget that. Were made for goodness. Were made for generosity. Were made for laughter. Were made for sharing. Thats what were made for.
I have a story of a farmer who had chickens in his back yard. One day he goes and checks on the chickens and sees a strange-looking chicken. It looks like the other chickens, but it doesnt quite look like the other chickens. And then a very smart visitor passes by and says to the farmer, No, no, no. Thats no chicken, thats an eagle. And the farmer says, Ahhh, it looks like the other chickens. Its walking about and pecking at the ground. And so this traveler says, Give it to me. So the farmer gives him this strange looking chicken. And this guy walks up and goes to the top of a mountain and waits for the sun to rise. And the sun rises. And he says to the strange looking chicken, Fly, eagle, fly. And then the strange-looking chicken shakes itself and spreads out its pinions and lifts off and flies away into the distance toward the rising sun.
You know something? God says to us, Think. You are no chicken. Youre an eagle. Fly, eagle fly. God want us to shake ourselves, spread out our pinions, and lift off and soar and soar and soartowards transcendence, goodness, beauty, truth, laughter, joy.
Fly, eagle fly.
President, The Independent Institute
Thank you, again, for joining with us. We hope that we see you again at upcoming Institute events. Good night.