Presently I am the executive director of The Freedom & Virtue Institute. The paramount goal of the Freedom & Virtue Institute is to bring to varied  communities opportunities to learn about and live out the principles of a free and virtuous society. We are not only dedicated to the dissemination of the ideas of freedom as a non-constrain proposition but as freedom for the good, freedom leading to virtue. The Institute is a non-profit organization that was created inspired by  our work in minority communities and the vision and work of the Acton Institute, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our mission is to bring to minority communities the ideas of freedom & virtue developed by national and international think tanks in ways that are practical and engaging. Our task is to apply the principle of subsidiarity to the communication of the ideas of freedom.

For ten years I was the executive director of a Catholic ministry in Fort Myer, Florida where I reside with my wife Crystal and our children Lael Ann, Mateo Amiri and Miriam Anne. We are a proud American family. I hold a masters degree in Political Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi where I graduated Magna Cum Laude.

My story is one of how a “red diaper baby” who grew up in a committed and intellectually sophisticated communist household has become the defender of freedom and American values. My father left an extensive FBI file for his activities with the Pro Independence Movement and the Socialist Party in Puerto Rico and New York. He was a committed Marxist-Lenninist and I followed his lead.

I grew up with Fidel and Che on the radio, Granma newspapers everywhere and my father yelling slogans and debating everyone.   It is still clear in my mind the time I saw my parents dancing with joy in the middle of our very small living room as the Soviets celebrated their victory over the USA in Olympic basketball. Or falling asleep at the long communist cell meetings my father used to take me to.  I also remember the deep anger and hate I felt against America as my parents’ marriage began to fade in great part under the weight of my father’s activities and attitudes. My mother only cared about the four little ones she had to take care of and my father cared about dreams of revolution. I blamed it all on America.

In the 80s I served as a poll worker for the Socialist Party and as close as just before the first Gulf War I sponsored a campaign of flyers attacking the United States and encouraging people not to participate in the war.  The main reason I studied political sciences was precisely to intellectually destroy America.

There was a second influence in my life:  traditional Catholicism. I always fought to reconcile both ideas an, for the most part, simply made my faith subsidiary to my politics. I found the place where I could “have my cake and eat it too.”  I joined the Jesuit Order. In the eighties in Puerto Rico it was almost as if to join the Jesuit Seminary you had to be a socialist. I often say that the difference between a communist cell and the Jesuits then was that the Jesuits definitely had better food!

As I write in my blog I will recount more of my journey. For now I just can say that I made a great mistake I will always be thankful for: I came to America. I began to experience for myself what this country is really about. My safe assumptions and sheltered ideas began to crumble under the weight of reality.  Today I can say that I am a proud American and a classical liberal. I hope that you join us in dialogue.


3 Responses to “About Ismael”

  1. John Says:

    Ismael, I really like your story. As you know I was part of that story, you were my history teacher and we had very deep discussions regarding Marxism and traditional Catholicism. I think that we all mature to understand that America is much more than politics. I’m also a proud American. Keep writing, I really enjoy your blog.

    1. John, I just saw this! Yes, I remember. Then, my views were very different. I thank God that I came here to America and began to experience different things. I began a journey to, for the first time, question the assumptions I took for granted. Blessings to you!

  2. pghsheep Says:

    When Jesus taught us to pray He started with “Our Father” who did He exclude?

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