“What makes people interested in the rule of law, the first thing that they understand… is that everybody on this earth lives on a plot of land.”
Hernando De Soto, the president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru, is most widely known for his book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else and for his leading role in the PBS documentary series, The Power of the Poor. Growing up in Switzerland but making visits to his homeland, he began to wonder why Peru was poor and Switzerland prosperous. As De Soto investigated back in Peru, he came to see that the problem was common to most developing countries and was a major part of why the poor remained in poverty. Because property rights are insecure and informal the developing world, business remains under-capitalized. De Soto insists that what the poor need is rule of law, title to their property, and secure property rights. This is what will unleash the wealth-creating energies of the poor.