December 10 was International Human Rights Day. Like in other countries, Cuba’s dissidents mad their best efforts to publicly observe this day and demand that their human rights be respected. Different activists in Cuba had different levels of success depending on the level of government repression that each group encountered.
Not surprisingly, libertarians in Havana and Camaguey were on unofficial house arrest for hours. Unofficial house arrest is one of the most common tactics for repression used by Raul Castro’s government. Instead of conducting an investigation into suspected illegal activities, like people making posters criticizing the Cuban Stalinist regime, the regime will simply send one or two enforcers to park on a residential street and prevent certain activists from leaving their homes. Sometimes the enforcers are uniformed police officers while other times they’re undercover State Security agents wearing civilian clothes. Anyone tries to leave their home while under unofficial house arrest, they’ll be promptly arrested for disturbing the peace or a similar phony infraction.
Diario de Cuba published evidence that organizers for the Committee on Racial Integration were on house arrest, with police officers clearly watching the house and staring straight at the dissidents’ mobile phone camera.
The leaders of the Cuban Libertarian Party’s Havana Section and at least one volunteer in the Camaguey section were under unofficial house arrest for hours. As soon as the regime’ watchers left their street, a group of at least eight libertarians quickly assembled to march through the streets of Havana’s Arroyo Naranjo neighborhood. Though nothing terrible happened to the Havana Section that day (all things being relative), every one of the Cuban libertarians who marched for their human rights has been beaten by Castro’s police before.
Another Cuban libertarian had a very different experience that day. Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez, a member of the Mises Cuba book club (which became today’s Mises-Mambí Institute) and given party membership in absentia, spent the day languishing in a labor prison. Ubaldo Herrera was arrested by State Security in February 2017 and falsely convicted of attempted assault of a police officer. His real crime was meeting with friends to read books critical of socialism, especially Marxist governments. February of 2020 will mark three years since Herrera was arrested, sentenced to seven years in a labor prison, and shipped off to the prison complex at Melena del Sur.
The leader of the Havana’s libertarian activists is Caridad Ramirez, who is also a member of the Ladies in White. This women’s organization is formed of the mothers and wives of jailed dissidents, as well as women who themselves have been in jail or prison for exercising free speech in a way that the Communist Party of Cuba doesn’t approve of. That day, four Ladies in White were promptly arrested for protesting in the streets. The police arrived on foot, promptly surrounded the protesters, and immediately dragged them away. Anyone who so much as pulled their arm away was immediately struck by the arresting officers.
The libertarians certainly aren’t alone in their suffering. Dissidents in Castro’s Cuba have suffered for decades. In 1959 the Castro regime llegedly only executed people connected to the Batista regime. In the following year, the regime began executing anyone involved in the Escambray Rebellion. Since the end of Cuba’s civil war in the mid-1960s, there has been no war on the island, but that same regime wages a constant dirty war against dissidents in the style of Pinochet regime’s arbitrary imprisonments and murders.
The main difference is that today, no one gets dropped out of helicopters; they merely get imprisoned on false charges and then transferred to general population where the real criminals are, and then dissidents mysteriously wind up killed in a prison riot. Other times dissidents are reported to have “committed suicide” while in police custody, even though their bodies show clear signs of having been beaten to death. Last year, the activist Alejandro Pupo Echemendía was beaten to death by police in Villa Clara province. You can see the photos for yourselves. (Some readers may find them disturbing.)
Inside of Cuba, dissidents get arrested, severely beaten, and extorted by the police and the regime’s Stalinist “justice” system. Outside of Cuba, the Castro regime’s soldiers and spies have personally participated in repressing and even murdering peaceful dissidents in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Despite regularly having their human rights violated, Cuba’s libertarian activists remain libertarian and they remain committed to fighting for their freedom and for the regime to respect their human rights.