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By Zach Foster
A libertarian brother from the Mises Cuba Institute notified me shortly after two Cuban libertarian activists were arrested by State Security officers—the political secret police. Mises Cuba, Mises USA, and the PanAm Post all confirmed that Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velasquez Visea were both arrested in the last week. Other members of Mises Cuba were also threatened with arrest by the political police.
The two men were arrested together. Reportedly, they were approached by several plain-clothes undercover secret policemen. The secret policemen harassed the two men and arrested the activists when they refused to show ID to non-uniformed officers. Herrera and Velasques are still detained.
The American Mises Institute commented: “At a time when interest in the works of Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian School is growing in developing nations, this arrest is a solemn reminder of the incredible courage of those spreading ideas in countries where governments routinely crack down on political opposition.”
Responding to a request for comment, Libertarian Party of Nevada Chairman Jason Smith and Vice Chairman David Colborne both expressed shock at the arrest and they condemn the Cuban government for this abuse against civil liberties and basic human rights. This morning, LP Nevada released a press release in English and in Spanish officially protesting the arrest and indefinite detention of Herrera and Velasquez and demanding their immediate safe release.
Since the War on Terror heated up, libertarians have been fighting and campaigning against indefinite detention. The liberty movement in 2012 vehemently opposed the National Defense Authorization Act specifically for the indefinite detention clause. This same fate is exactly what the Cuban libertarian activists are facing now.
Libertarians everywhere should join in denouncing the unjust actions of the Cuban regime and demand that the two political prisoners be released immediately. Cuban goods should be boycotted. People from around the world need to be putting pressure on their own governments to put political pressure on Cuba, while themselves putting economic pressure on Cuba.
This is a time when we libertarians need to stand in solidarity with Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velasquez Visea. What happened to these men in Cuba can still happen in the United States, especially with a presidential cabinet stacked with authoritarians like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. Rounding out the authoritarian curve is President Trump and his love for executive orders.
We the People need to keep protesting and pressuring our own government to respect our civil liberties, but that doesn’t mean we can’t scream and shout when it happens in places like Cuba. After all, while Americans fear their government arbitrarily jailing political opponents, it actually happens in Cuba. Driving it closer to home, these men are libertarian activists. They were thrown in jail for exactly the type of nonviolent education and discussion that people reading this have done countless times without even a second thought.
The jailed Cuban libertarian activists are political prisoners and State Security is holding them without a trial. This is antithetical to freedom. It would be the same whether the Cuban regime jailed Cuban libertarian activists or whether a right-wing regime jailed socialist labor union organizers. There are some things a human being just doesn’t have the right to do to another human being.
There can be no justice in Cuba until the two Cuban libertarian activists are released safe and sound. We can only hope State Security hasn’t brutalized them the way they’ve brutalized countless of the nameless Cuban peasants unlucky enough to be suspected of crimes against the state. What’s worse is how authoritarian governments like the Cuban regime usually accuse political dissidents not of crimes against the state, but against “the people.”
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