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20120601 A-Mano-Limpia-with-Oscar-HazaMISSION — A national non-profit organization cemented its status in the community last month, bringing in elected officials to talk with the group and the community about education and immigration with a focus on the economy and how Hispanics can help.

The LIBRE Initiative is a national non-profit that aims to increase awareness of and support for the principles of economic freedom among Latinos.

The group, which is headquartered in Mission and has offices in nine other states, advocates for less taxes, regulations and government involvement in business.

“This is something we should be talking about,” said Executive Director Daniel Garza.

He said while the economy ranks high on the list of concerns for Hispanics, the national dialogue on Latino issues focuses mainly on immigration and education. Officially launched in October 2011, LIBRE kicked off its work in the Rio Grande Valley with a May 14 discussion that featured State Rep. Aaron Peña.

“That was an official announcement to say, ‘We’re in Texas,’” he said. “We’re going to bring elected leadership together with the faith community or with the businesses or with students, and we’re going to change the conversation from just immigration or from just education to immigration, education and the economy on the basis of economic freedom.”

In addition to the Mexican-American community in the Valley, the LIBRE works with other Latinos around the country.

“Most of the Valley and certainly the Hispanic community is very strong in terms of small businesses and self-sufficiency,” Peña said. “We’ve been a home to ourselves for a 100 years or so…and we grew to be self-sufficient.”

Garza said that the concept of economic freedom focuses on letting businesses operate with little government restrictions or intervention and simple regulations.

“Those are the principles that we feel are better at generating prosperity, and that one is rewarded for hard work, self-reliance, talent, merit,” he said. “We’re asking the Hispanic community to rise up and to make the case on the free market, focus on economic freedom, focus on growing the private sector.”

Though LIBRE was launched last October, Garza said the catalyst for its creation was the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010.

“We just felt that this was a real bad policy that would do more to stifle job creation and hinder the private sector’s ability to grow and help it and help regular Americans,” he said.

LIBRE’s founders feel the policy will add costs to businesses that could lead to employers having to terminate employees.

“Once again it’s the imposition of government telling the private sector, ‘We know how to spend your money,’” Garza said. “We felt it was a violation of the Constitution and an overreach of its authority. It’s always good intentions, but they just never seem to hit the mark.”

Future efforts by LIBRE include a policy luncheon to be broadcast by Univision in August, a July forum with Puerto Rico’s Gov. Luis Fortuño and a 12-city concert series they hope to formally announce within a few weeks.

Garza said that the group’s goals are long-term and transcend conservative or liberal political views.

“It’s pro-liberty. Our vision is really to make out of the Hispanic community a vanguard for freedom of the principles,” he said. “Our parents or our grandparents came here because they could achieve here what they could not achieve in their country of origin. ‘Let me be free, I’ll prosper. If the government gets out of my way, I’ll prosper.’ And they have.”

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