Cuba’s newly-formed Libertarian Party has already experienced the brute force and tyranny of the Castro regime, simply for having liberty-minded ideas.
All of the present activists at Cuba’s Libertarian Party HQ were arrested late Wednesday evening for “illicit association.” Cuban law states that “anyone belonging to an unregistered association can be fined or imprisoned for between one and three months.”
Cuba’s personalist, communist regime has thwarted any attempt at freedom of political thought among its citizens.
The formation of a Libertarian Party in Cuba immediately caught the eye of Raul Castro’s regime and resulted in forceful actions intended at halting the party’s growth. In a correspondence between our Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen and Libertarian Party of Cuba’s spokesman Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand, Nelson details the recent arrests, along with the government’s persistent tyrannical quashing of thought and association:
Dillon Eliassen: Please describe what happened, the arrest, and what the Cuban police told you.
Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand: At 11:00am [on Wednesday, May 31st], three members of the State Security Forces arrived at the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library, which is also the headquarters for the Cuban Libertarian Party. They threatened and accused us of public disorder, which is untrue from a strict perspective, because we were inside the house, completely quiet, and we were within our own private property. They said we could not leave the house nor let anyone inside. We were surrounded.
45 minutes later, more or less, a group of 15 agents specialized in murder, from the special brigade, entered our headquarters violently and attacked us while they ravished the house. Caridad (President), Heriberto (Vice-President) and Eduardo (party member) were transported to Vivac Detention, and Miguel and I were sent to Cotorro Detention Center. Written warnings were issued to each us for illicit association, which is a crime according to the criminal code. They know we are part of a political party, which is illegal. In Cuba, only the Communist Party is legal.
Caridad, Miguel and I were forced to leave barefoot.
After numerous threats, we were released at 2:00 am. Caridad and Heriberto arrived after 3:00, so did Eduardo.
Miguel and I were released 30 kilometers away from the library where we were captured. We had been fasting for four days in a row. We arrived at the party headquarters barefoot and exhausted at around 5:00.
Dillon: Has this happened before? What other examples are there of the Cuban government clamping down on your activities?
Nelson: Of course. Before we even had a library or a political party, security forces entered the house and emptied an entire bookshelf. That happens everyday with total impunity. I have participated in several complaints, but they always remain unsolved.
Dillon: Please provide some basic info about your organization. How many members, the mission statement, progress of the movement, etc.
Nelson: There is the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library, specializing in libertarian affairs and nothing more. This library aims to disseminate the ideas of freedom on the basis of the logic of individualistic thinking. We want to extend it to the full width and length of the country.
This library is the source of knowledge which nourishes the Jose Marti Cuban Libertarian Party. This party aims to carry out a program of demands and proposals so the state can adopt a social structure that guarantees freedom to all its citizens.
We provide conferences, debates, rounds of conversations, etc. every month.
We consist of 16 members, so far.
[The government] demands we leave the party, they will not allow it to prosper. Warnings were issued, although they were not signed by any of the libertarians, for them it have legal effect.
UPDATE: This story has taken a turn into absurdity; what was an example of a tyrannical government suppressing free speech and other civil liberties has devolved into something resembling a chapter from Catch-22. From one of our sources that has direct contact with the Cuban Libertarian Party:
The team received an indictment last night. Since 2 are on a hunger strike (the ones who were sent back walking), our president and vicepresident are paramedics, so they are being indicted for “abandonment” for not nourishing the hungry…
They have to go to court today at 11:00am. We hope they don’t get detained. Those on hunger strike, in solidarity with our members illegaly imprisoned, offered to stop the strike tomorrow to avoid legal actions against the party itself…
You don’t even have the right to fast in Cuba. In Cuba, dissidents can’t work legally, hence they don’t receive money. So they literally starve. The problem arises when you CHOOSE to starve, let alone choose to do it in solidarity with imprisoned dissidents…
Check back for more updates on this story.
Photo credit: Partido Libertario Cubano
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