UPDATE: The team has been released and is now home, but some members have returned with injuries. According to the Mises Institute of Cuba, they were dropped off in different places throughout the city, barefoot and beaten. Some of the members endured a four-day hunger strike as well, before being released. We can also report that the whole neighborhood showed up to show their support for the team. The team is expected to appear online on Saturday with video and photos of the event, which we will post as soon as it is available.
Wednesday night, all of the activists at the headquarters for the Libertarian Party of Cuba were arrested and taken away by state police in a standoff that lasted several hours. According to a post on the official Facebook page for the Libertarian Party of Cuba, a neighbor witnessed the incident and reported to page organizers.
The standoff was the culmination of several months of political activism on the part of members of the Cuban affiliate of the Mises Institute. In February, two Mises Institute of Cuba members, Ubalda Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velazquez Visea, were also arrested. According to a statement made on the Mises Institute of Cuba’s Facebook page, Hernandez and Visea refused to provide identification to an undercover state policeman and were then arrested for assault — a crime commonly used by the state police to detain political dissidents, the statement said.
Libertarian Party of Cuba was founded on May 7 at the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library, which is also the home of the Mises Institute of Cuba. Its founding was partially inspired by the imprisonment of fellow activists, when the group of anarcho-capitalists decided to become visible to the public. Before this, they had discussion groups and shared books, but mostly did so discreetly.
Then a week ago, the Mises Institute of Cuba reported Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand missing on May 23. He reemerged 24 hours later, beaten and shaking. He believes he was abducted by undercover state police that were intended to intimidate him.
Details of the incident involving several activists being confronted by police are forthcoming, but it ended in the arrest of all the remaining activists still present at LP Cuba headquarters in Arroyo Naranjo, a neighborhood in Havana.
Several vehicles arrived during the day, and no one was allowed in or out of the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library. As it stands now, many of the remaining members of both the Mises Institute of Cuba and the Libertarian Party of Cuba are in prison.
Earlier the same day, it was announced that prosecutors were seeking a seven year sentence for the two activists that have been in prison since February. That case is also ongoing. Supporters have urged Amnesty International to intervene, and suggest that anyone wishing to bring this matter to light can Tweet to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter.
We will update this article as new information becomes available. If you have any information relevant to this story, please contact us, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the Libertarian Party of USA’s official statement here.