Heriberto Pons, vice president of the Cuban Libertarian Party–José Martí, was arrested along with four other Libertarian activists by Cuban state security sorces on Aug. 20, according to a report by Mamela Fiallo Flor in the PanAm Post. They were arrested at their party headquarters after formulating a statement opposing Decree 349, which, when it takes effect, will mandate that all artistic expression be regulated and approved by the Communist Cuban government.
“It’s difficult to get independent verification of Cuban repression because of the heavy news censorship there,” said Libertarian Executive Director Wes Benedict. “If this story is true, though, it’s a damning indictment of the lengths to which the Cuban government will go in stifling dissent.”
The new law will subject allow legal prosecution of anyone who questions the Cuban regime through art or otherwise disobeys the decree. The other Libertarian activists captured in the Aug. 20 arrests were Eduardo Ramos Balaguer, Israel Reyes Montero, Yaima Martinez Borroto, and Isabeht Cuella Carrasco.
“This is not the first instance of the Communist Party, the only legal party in Cuba, cracking down on Libertarian activists,” Benedict said. “On the Fourth of July this year, Yanet Padrón Naya, secretary of the Cuban Libertarian Party–José Martí, dared to fly the American flag. She was arrested for ‘unruly behavior,’ banned from internet ‘navigation rooms,’ and arraigned on trumped-up charges of prostitution to keep her imprisoned and away from tourist areas.”
The Cuban Libertarian Party–José Martí, which was named in honor of the 19th century Cuban independence activist José Martí, has been harassed by the Cuban government since its launch in 2017. The party’s first president, Caridad Ramírez Utria, was one of the first to be arrested. The Libertarian National Committee also condemned the Cuban government then.
“The more they attack us, the more it means that we are doing things right,” Ramírez has said.
Former Cuban President Raúl Castro has “retired” from his leadership position, remaining as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. It’s clear, though, that presidential successor Miguel Díaz-Canal is carrying on the repressive practices of Cuba’s Communist government.
“We deplore the evils of totalitarian governments anywhere, but it would be a mistake for the United States to tighten sanctions on Cuba” Benedict said. “The best way to introduce Cubans to the benefits of freedom is to practice it with them by encouraging free trade and a free exchange of tourists and the ideas that tourists bring with them. If the Cuban people want freedom badly enough, even their Communist rulers will eventually grant them some. After all, even dictators cannot keep their jobs if all their citizens disobey them — and dictators do want to keep their jobs.”
Libertarian candidates in the United States face great difficulty in getting on the ballot in many states, but we overcome them. More than 800 Libertarian candidates are running for local, state, and federal office this year. All of them are united in opposing government censorship and other suppression of speech and expression.