Hernando de Soto (Economist)

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Hernando de Soto (born 1941) is a Peruvian economist notable for his achievements in freeing the Peruvian economy from government controls and red tape in the 1980s and 1990s. De Soto spent much of his early life in Europe: when he was seven his family was exiled to Switzerland following a military coup, and he did not return to Peru until he was 38. In Peru he founded the Institute for Liberty and Democracy and became an adviser to President Alberto Fujimori. Among the achievements of the ILD were land reforms, giving millions of peasants ownership of the land they worked, and a strong assault on unnecessary bureaucracy and government control. These reforms, by extending the benefits of free enterprise to poor farmers and others, are credited with helping to defeat the Maoist Shining Path insurgency led by Abimael Guzman. Indeed, Shining Path terrorists attempted to assassinate de Soto.

For his achievements, de Soto was in 2004 awarded the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Freedom by the CATO Institute.