Andrés delivers a seminar to students at Torras Carrasquilla College in Bogotá.
Andrés and the First Lady of Colombia.
The Colombian Senate honored Andrés with one of the nation’s highest honors, the Decoration of Democratic Merit.
Flying with the Colombian Air Force.
Over 1,500 officers of the Colombian National Police and emergency response personnel at a Way to Happiness seminar in Bogotá.
The “Day for Peace” events in Caracas (top) and Bogotá (above). Andrés presented with a medal by the Ministry of Defense inscribed “Soldier of Happiness” (below).]
If you want a working definition for a narco-democracy then spend a little time with National State Security in Colombia. For 44 years, Colombian society has been ravaged by an armed conflict between paramilitary groups, guerrillas and government forces— heavily funded by a drug trade that supplies 60 percent of the world’s cocaine.
At the height of their powers, Colombian cartels took in up to $60 million a day from the illegal drug trade—and used money and extreme violence to bribe and undermine the Colombian law enforcement and criminal justice system until no one could trust the security forces anymore and Colombia reigned as the “world’s kidnap capital,” with up to 3,572 kidnappings in a single year.
Corruption in every echelon of the armed forces and government was rampant, giving rise to headlines such as “Colombia Arrests Soldiers for Killing Civilians,” referencing a case where street kids from Bogotá were dressed in leftist guerilla fatigues and then slain by soldiers for the bonus-pay awarded to those who met combat-kill quotas.
It was against this backdrop that IAS Freedom Medal Winner for 2009, Andrés López, set out to restore the bonds of trust and brotherhood and remake his nation. As Colombia’s premier stand-up comedian, Andrés has performed for more than a million fans, Idling halls from Miami to Madrid. After he discovered Scientology in late 2003, Andrés was introduced to The Way to Happiness and knew he’d found a tool with which to instill new values in the culture. Since that time he has been on a crusade presenting it to his nation.
It began in earnest in late 2004 when a general at a Colombian Air Force Base requested that Andrés perform his comedy show to raise the morale of officers and families on the base. Not only did Andrés deliver his show—and at no charge—but he further elevated their morale by giving them copies of The Way to Happiness. He repeated his successful pattern of combining comedy performances and The Way to Happiness distribution to elite pilots, national police, navy cadets and anti-insurgency personnel.
While giving performances for Bogotá’s industrial and political elite, Andrés had the opportunity to present The Way to Happiness to the country’s president and shortly thereafter to the First Lady. This led to an audience with her in the palace, and soon thereafter Andrés wrote and delivered a two-hour Way to Happiness seminar to 80 members of the presidential staff. Its success opened the doors to delivery to National Security Services and government officials across the nation.
Knowing that The Way to Happiness could restore trust and bring calm where it was most needed, Andres then took The Way to Happiness seminar to the ones who “confront the unconfrontable” every day—the military, the police, and those who daily fight narco-trafficking and terrorism.
Andrés also brought the message of The Way to Happiness to “Top Gun” trainees at the Air Force Academy, to the National Judicial Police in Bogotá and to Naval Academy cadets. He was now funneling thousands of booklets a month to Colombia’s armed forces and the National Police. Those who had previously turned a blind eye to human rights abuses and unmarked graves or were on the take from drug trafficking rings, were finally learning to live with themselves because Andrés López was using The Way to Happiness to teach them to live with the truth. When diplomatic tensions suddenly flared following heavy Colombian military action on guerilla encampments across the Colombian border, threats of war soon dominated the South American headlines. That is when Colombia’s Andrés López linked with Venezuelan IAS Freedom Medal Winners, Audrey Cabrera and Ruddy Rodriguez for a series of events they dubbed “A Day for Peace.” They began at the Sambil Plaza in Caracas where 7,000 public assembled for Ruddy, Andres and the 21 precepts of The Way to Happiness. At the Plaza de las Americas in Bogotá, another 11,000 gathered as a sign of solidarity. They held yet another packed event at the Maracaibo bullfight plaza.
At which point, nobody could miss the “gentle calm” flowing in the wake of 100,000 booklets. When Venezuela withdrew their armored divisions and stood down their fighter squadrons from the Colombian border and diplomatic ties resumed, it was headline news across South America. For his part in presenting a common-sense guide to better living and instilling ideals of brotherhood and nondiscrimination, Colombia’s armed forces acknowledged Andrés López with a special Ministry of Defense award—decorating him as an emissary of peace and “Soldier of Happiness.”
Andrés next reached out to major colleges, polytechnics and universities, multinational businesses and city officials with The Way to Happiness. Colombia’s Naval Command placed The Way to Happiness into the Colombian naval curriculum, And so he continued, spreading word of the precepts across National Police departments, across the Air Force and Army infrastructure and even to the Colombian Senate. The Senate recognized Andrés for spreading peace and tolerance—and presented him with the Medal of Democratic Merit. There was still more as 160,000 people picked up booklets at his workshops and seminars, while 20 million more tuned in to hear about The Way to Happiness Precept 10, “Support a government designed and run for all the people.”
The Way to Happiness has been a catalyst for positive change and the change in Colombia can actually be measured: In Bogotá, narco-political killings plunged 70 percent. In Medillin, homicides dropped 90 percent and all over the barrios of Barranquilla and Soacha, paramilitary abductions fell 91 percent.
In a country where they used to say every cop was a criminal and every soldier a coldblooded killer, public trust in police and armed forces has never been higher in Colombian history. A legacy of violence and drugs had all but torn Colombia asunder, but Andrés López set out to restore bonds of trust and brotherhood. By teaching people to live with the truth, he is making Colombian history with The Way to Happiness.
IAS FREEDOM MEDAL WINNER 2009
Ron taught me how to improve my career and create comedy at the top of the Tone Scale. Its amazing what I have learned. When I was introduced to The Way To Happiness booklet, I said, “Happiness is part of my job, as a comedian I need to create that effect.” I then created a show from this wonderful little booklet—and
that’s when the magic started.
Later, when I was on the Freetrinds studying the State of Man Congress I saw the steps of everything I needed to do were right there in those lectures.
Since I Was a kid I always wanted to be like a superhero that helps others, and Ron showed me how. So, with my abilities that he helped me to improve, plus the booklet, I saw the effect created: a changing country, just reborn in front of my eyes.
To Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, you’ve been so generous with all of us. I have this medal now in order to continue with the task. So thank you, for showing me how to do the right stuff, and also for The Bridge and for freedom. Thank you with all my heart, you are my true friend.1