Cuban Libertarian Party Spokesman and PanAm Post contributor Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand was kidnapped this week and subsequently released by four men who may have been regime police officers.
Rodriguez, who also works with the libertarian think tank Mises Cuba, was reportedly seen last on May 22 between 10 and 11pm, having left his son’s house to go to the Benjamin Franklin libertarian library. He said four men surrounded him and beat him unconscious. He was then moved to a different part of the island, though it’s unclear how the men transported him.
When he awoke, the men had taken his shoes and money, as well as documents and books he had been carrying with him, much of it libertarian or dissident literature.
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Concerned friends and family contacted the police, who said there was nothing they could do, because “not coming home” isn’t a crime, and that he hadn’t been gone long enough for his absence to qualify as a missing persons case. No medical clinic or hospital had admitted him at that time, either.
However, those closest to Rodriguez were worried, as he had strongly and publicly criticized President Raul Castro’s regime. State Police had been spotted in civilian clothes trailing him and surveilling his residence.
The Libertarian Republic said there is great incentive for kidnapping libertarian dissidents.
“There’s a lot of American tourism in Cuba now,” writer Zach Foster said. “They’ve increased repression across the board, across the island, since this January. They have to get rid of the problem children, and they have to do it quietly.”
This isn’t the first time that a Libertarian has fallen victim to the island’s harsh dictatorial repression.
Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez, who also works at the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library, was reportedly arrested by an undercover officer who had requested to see his papers.
Herrera is still being held as a political prisoner for an unfounded “attack” charge. Luckily, Rodriguez appeared a little more than 24 hours after his disappearance — visibly shaken, but reportedly of sound mind — with no charges against him.