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On the morning of May 3, Acton University alumnus Marcel van Hattem was awarded the Order of Rio Branco, the highest civilian award in Brazil, by President Jair Bolsonaro. The award, established in February 1963, is named after the Brazilian diplomat, Barão do Rio Branco and given to “distinguish meritorious services and civic virtues.”

Van Hattem has proved to be one of the most influential leaders in Acton’s broad alumni network consisting of more than 8,500 people. Since 2011, van Hattem has experienced a fast rise in Brazilian politics, now serving as a member of the New Party and a Federal Deputy from Rio Grande do Sul. The New Party was formed in 2011 around classically liberal principles, promoting limited government reform at every level.

In addition to his political activities in Brazil, van Hattem has been actively involved in the work of the Acton Institute, attending Acton’s many events around the world. van Hattem and Acton’s alumni network in Brazil are working tirelessly to promote a more free and moral society.

At Acton University 2018, serving as the master of ceremonies for one of the four evening plenaries, van Hattem had this to say about his first experience with Acton six years ago: “Much in my life has changed since my first participation in [Acton University] … I was granted additional intellectual support and motivation to defend a free and virtuous society.”

Please join us in congratulating van Hattem on this great honor.

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