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Spire: Volume 1, Number 1

2023 Guardian of Freedom Award Winner: Salim Mattar

    What does it take to be considered a Guardian of Freedom?

    This special award was created by the Acton Institute to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall—an extraordinarily poignant representation of freedom literally tearing down the barriers of tyranny. It has only been awarded four times since its inception in 2009.

    A true Guardian of Freedom has dedicated much of his or her time, talents, and resources effectively to the advancement of liberty around the world. It takes bravery, sacrifice, and perseverance. Guardians of Freedom exemplify in their own lives the ideals of a free and virtuous society, giving of themselves to further the cause of liberty in a deliberate and notable way.

    Acton Institute is honored to confer the 2023 Guardian of Freedom Award to Salim Mattar for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Brazilian people as well as the world.

    Brazil is among the most populous countries in the world and has the largest economy in South America. So, when freedom there is threatened, it has an outsized impact on the rest of the world. 

    Mattar co-founded and built a highly successful car rental company, but he did not retire from that business to relax. After reading the free-market principles of people like Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, he knew that Brazil’s government and society were on the wrong path.

    Mattar decided to use not only his money but also his entrepreneurial talents to found Instituto de Formação (IFL), a think tank that trains and forms “independent leaders who seek to obtain knowledge and, mainly, to put into practice leadership, entrepreneurship and excellent management based on values ​​of economic, intellectual, and political freedom.” 

    Thanks to Mattar, IFL now has more than a dozen chapters. Between IFL and the other 120 classical liberal institutions he supports, he is changing Brazil. President of the Santa Catarina IFL chapter, Pedro Fernandes, estimates that hundreds of thousands of people have been affected thanks to Mattar’s efforts and dedication to freedom.

    “Acton Institute’s work rests on the assumption that ideas are powerful,” said Kris Mauren, president of Acton. “They are powerful forces put into the hands of leaders that can transform our societies and the world. Salim Mattar is an example of someone who encountered these ideas of liberty and it transformed his thinking. It inspired his activities—not only through business but in remaking civil society and politics in Brazil.”

    The promise of liberty is a light in the darkness. When it grows dim, a Guardian of Freedom steps up to brighten it for generations to come.

    To learn more about the Guardian of Freedom Award and Salim Mattar, visit


    Guardian Freedom Award QR Code Link

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