Secret police are abducting libertarians in Cuba as free market activism rises in the communist nation, a tide the regime can’t stop.
Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand, a libertarian attorney, is likely the latest victim of a nationwide purge of anyone critical of the socialist state as it teeters away from the Fidel Castro era.
Chartrand was last seen late Monday night heading to the new Benjamin Franklin libertarian library in Havana, where two other activists were arrested by secret police in February.
“Our team went to different stations and hospitals and no reports of arrests or hospital admissions,” Instituto Mises Cuba announced. “Everything indicates that this is a kidnapping by state security.”
Chartrand helped found Cuba’s first libertarian party a few weeks ago:
The two other activists abducted, Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velazquez Visea, are facing numerous charges and are locked up at the notorious Melena II maximum security prison.
“The prison has a long history of housing political dissidents, including Andres Fidel Alfondo Rodriguez, a fellow human rights activist, and Du Bouchet Hernández, an independent journalist on the island,” wrote Tho Bishop of the Mises Institute. “Melena II has a long history of human rights violations.”
The arrests occurred as numerous libertarian organizations began popping up in Cuba.
“If Chartrand was taken by state security, it may be in response to recent actions taken by Mises Cuba and other libertarian organizations on the island,” reported the Mises Institute. “Also on Monday night, a new libertarian library was launched in the province of Camaguey.”
“This followed the recent launch of the Cuban Libertarian Party founded earlier this month.”
Ironically, the arrests show Cuba is making progress away from its Soviet past; a few decades ago, the activists would have likely been executed already.
It’s an indication that Cuba is moving towards a mixed-economy much like China, or perhaps even a total, USSR-style collapse.
For one thing, admiration for Castro went into decline among the Cuban people in the early 2000s – the birth years for Generation Z, which is touted as more libertarian overall than previous generations.
It’s not shocking then that the unpopularity for Castro extended to unpopularity for communism in general, with the Cuban youth opening up libertarian-themed libraries named after American Founding Fathers.
“Even in a totalitarian state, human creativity, ingenuity, and the drive to improve the world around us can never be totally extinguished,” noted Austrian economist Peter G. Klein. “Household production, village enterprise, artist collectives, and similar small-scale market-like activities have existed in Cuba for years.”