A New Dawn in Havana: Claiming Freedom for Jailed Libertarian Cubans
By Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand
As the world knows, and those who don’t will soon find out, since February 2, Cuban libertarians Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velazquez Visea have been unjustly imprisoned for the sole reason of defending and disseminating the ideas of freedom to people who have been misinformed and indoctrinated for more than half a century with a collectivist and exclusionary ideology, which has annihilated the freedom and even the will of the Cuban people.
During all this time, both Ubaldo and Manuel have been subject to beatings and torture. Days after their arrest, Herrera received a beating at the San José police station. While, the Interior Order (FOI) officials extinguished a cigarette on Velazquez Visea’s lips in the South Melena prison.
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In spite of the great solidarity that this injustice has engendered among libertarians worldwide and the actions carried out such as letters to Congresses, protests before Cuban embassies and a letter to the Attorney General demanding the immediate liberation of these two Cuban libertarian detainees, the Cuban regime has ignored this, keeping them imprisoned without a justification, flagrantly violating the principles of self-ownership and all rights derived therefrom, including the right to freedom of expression.
However, freedom, reason, and justice always survive the forces of repression and censorship: yesterday, May 17, 2017, the citizens of Havana woke up to posters plastered around the city demanding the liberation of political prisoners.
The Cuban capital proudly displays Ubaldo and Manuel’s picture all over the city with a sign that says, “Freedom for Ubaldo Herrera Hernández and Manuel Velázquez Visea, libertarians unjustly imprisoned for defending the ideas of freedom.”
“The Cuban Libertarian Party – Jose Marti, takes full responsibility and pride in the authorship of this peaceful demonstration of freedom, fully aware of the right that we have as human beings to express ourselves freely; at the same we hold the Cuban government entirely accountable for any retaliation that may be brought against any member of our organization,” said its president, Caridad Ramírez Utria.
Caridad was part of the influential group Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) who fight for the freedom of political prisoners.
About a year ago, while marching with the Ladies, she received such a beating from state forces that she spent 10 days in intensive care.
Caridad was contacted via a suspicious text message, after returning from posting signs. She received a suspicious text message. “What they are doing is dangerous,” he said. The person who sent the message claimed to have a better way to publicize the cause.
In Cuba there is a verification system where you can search for the name, address, and telephone number when you receive calls or messages on your cell phone. We verified and discovered that the telephone from which the message was sent was a telecommunications company. That means the message was intercepted by state intelligence; they wanted to find out what we would do.
All that we did was to place posters on telephone polls before the sun came out in the hope that the streets of Havana would dawn with new light.
The posters call for the release of our friends who did not commit any crime, they only planted the seeds of freedom in a land where it does not grow.
Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand is a lecturer, co-founder of the Libertarian Library Benjamin Franklin, and a lawyer graduated but not allowed to practice by the regime in Cuba.