Interview: Libertarianism in Cuba 2014-18

While it still surprises some people, there is a libertarian movement in Cuba, while others have become fanatics of the cult. They look for news about the freedom that drips from the island. At the Mises-Mambi Institute we are proud to interview the co-founder of the libertarian movement behind the Iron Curtain. This article is the first in a series.

How long do you have as a Cuban opponent? What were your reasons for opposing the Castro regime?

Well, it’s a difficult question to answer because changes never happen suddenly. They are always the cause of a process, but I can tell you my first incursion as an opponent of the regime. That happened in 1991 when I got an ID badge of the then-Human Rights Party, in a neighborhood known as Buena Vista, in the capital municipality of Playa.

Here U remained for a short time. On the one hand, I didn’t have the necessary conviction and on the other, it was a great weight for me. I was studying Law at the University of Havana, and it was priority for me to finish my degree, and as a declared opponent it wouldn’t have been possible.

At the end of my career I began to work in different foreign trade companies and I saw so much corruption, abuses, and abuses of power at high levels of government that I decided to definitely break with the system.

On May 8, 2008, I made a demonstration in favor of freedom of movement within the Embassy of a Latin American country, which led me to be detained in the headquarters of the State Security, known as Villa Marista, for 18 days under intense conditions; interrogations, beatings, being finally sentenced to 2 years of deprivation of liberty.

Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand, cubano y libertario
Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand, cubano y libertario

You’re a co-founder of the entire libertarian movement in Cuba. How were things in the beginning? How many people were attending meetings between 2014 and 2017?

Well, as you very well know, the libertarian movement in Cuba began in March 2014 with the founding of the Anarcho-capitalist Club of Cuba. The cardinal goal of this club was to spread the ideas of freedom. Imagine: going out into the streets to spread the ideas of Mises, Rothbard, Hayek and Bastiat was a challenge in a country where the entire population knew nothing but Marxist thought. Talking about the viability of a stateless society was something truly daring. I founded this Club with a fellow named Joisy Garcia.

From the first moments, the presence of State Security was immediate. Both Joisy and I were objects of innumerable arrests, beatings–several of them in public, threats, and kidnappings.

I don’t remember exactly, but in those times we had 23 members. This happened between 2014 and 2015. As I already told you, the objective of the Club was to spread the ideas of freedom and not so much increase in size. In 2015 Joisy moved to the USA and I continued to carry out the objectives of the Club in Cuba.

I have to mention as a point of honesty and gratitude that for almost two years, I had the unconditional support of an excellent friend, the Lady in White Yamile Barges Hurtado, who despite her responsibilities, accompanied me in posting the thoughts of Mises, Rothbard and Bastiat at the University of Havana, in the Law Offices, and out in the streets.

In the year 2017 I met Caridad Ramirez Utria and Heriberto Pons, who had an independent library in their house. A great dream that I always had is to create a conventional library specialized in libertarian themes. The Club already had one, but in digital format. As soon as I asked them for space in their library, they agreed, and with 4 books donated by the Spanish libertarian Miguel Guada, the first conventional library specialized in libertarian themes was founded: the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library (name proposed by them).

And in a short time the library had more than 120 books donated by libertarian friends. Jesus Huerta de Soto donated 3 boxes of books by himself; our friend Raquel Mizrahi, our great friend Angelines Chamorro, and others all contributed to the Cuban libertarian library. And of course, in all of this, was the hand and brains of our great friend Mamela Fiallo Flor.

I immediately began to give talks about libertarian thought and, from the first meetings, scores of people gathered at the home, and so arose the idea of ​​creating the José Martí Cuban Libertarian Party. Although the idea wasn’t consistent with my AnCap thinking, I thought that in any case, creating a Libertarian Party in Cuba–the first in history–was something super necessary.

Continued….

The Institute humbly reminds our supporters that Ubaldo Herrera, Yanet Padrón, and Lianet Guerra are still in Cuban prisons.

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