Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#FreeYon: 2008 Milton Friedman Prize Laureate kidnapped in Venezuela


Venezuelan classical liberal Yon Goicoechea disappeared in Venezuela

 Yesterday morning Yon Goicoechea, a young political leader and family man, was forcibly taken by men in unmarked vehicles.  Later that same aftenoon, Diosdado Cabello at a pro-regime rally called Yon an assassin and accused him of transporting explosives. Cabello has no official role in law enforcement and is also suspected by U.S. prosecutors of being in charge of the infamous drug-trafficking organization, "Cartel de los Soles." The rule of law has not existed in Venezuela for many years and the Leopoldo Lopez show trial in 2015 was but one of many examples of its absence. Where does one find an honest man in Venezuela today who defends the rule of law and liberty? Either protesting on the streets, in prison, dead or exiled.  Yon, who is a classical liberal in the tradition of Milton Friedman, is a nonviolent advocate for liberty, free markets and the rule of law. These are ideas despised by the Chavista regime in Caracas.

Yon is the 2008 laureate of The Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty
Today marks six years since the death of Franklin Brito, a man who died on hunger strike on August 30, 2010 defending the rule of law and property rights in Venezuela.  Today the judge who followed the instructions of the regime that contributed to Brito's death is seeking political asylum in Miami. Franklin Brito's daughter took to social media to denounce the outrage. Unfortunately, once again Cubans will recognize this practice having seen it themselves with Cuban human rights violators granted "asylum" by the Obama administration.  The problem is not the Cuban Adjustment Act but the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Cuba and the Obama administration that reward these criminals with visas and residency in the United States. Hopefully, the outcry  Ángela Brito will cause them to back off in this instance.

Following the downward spiral of Venezuelan democracy over the past 15 years and the efforts by young Venezuelans to stand up to the criminal and totalitarian onslaught first by Chavez and now by Maduro (with their Cuban handlers) is often a case of deja vu in the methods of defamation, repression, and terror used against them. Experience in the Cuba case is that remaining silent is deadly for the victims of repression. One must speak out in solidarity with them quickly to save them.

This is why there must also be an outcry now for Yon Goicoechea before it is too late. The alert republished below was passed on to me by social media and apparently originated by Ana Collado.

International Alert:
Political Activist Yon Goicoechea Forcibly Disappeared by Venezuelan Political Police

Yon Goicoechea, kidnapped and missing since yesterday
 Caracas, August 30, 2016. 2:00.p.m.

Yon Goicoechea, political leader and member of the Volutad Popular political party, was taken into custody by presumed agents of SEBIN, the Venezuelan political police, with no arrest warrant, no explanation and no information as to his whereabouts.

Around 9:30 am on Monday, August 29, Goicoechea was in his car, along with driver Peter Salas, on his way to pick up furniture in Caracas. He was intercepted on the highway by two unmarked vehicles. Both Goicoechea and Salas were forcibly removed from their car and taken away to an unknown location. The car was seized.

Diosdado Cabello, a highly influential figure in the government, alleged on Monday afternoon that Goicochea was transporting “detonators for explosive devices,” and referred to Goicoechea as an assassin. The allegation was made in the context of a pro-government political rally. No documentation has been made available to support these claims, and Cabello plays no formal role in law enforcement.

It has been more than 30 hours since Goicoechea and Salas were last seen. They have not been given access to council, their families have not had any contact with them. No official information has been produced as to their whereabouts, the charges levied against them, or the evidence to support them. Under the Venezuelan constitution, Goicoechea has the right to contact with his family and lawyers immediately upon detention.

Goicoechea, a 31 year old lawyer and political activist, especially focused on non-violent activism, won the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2008. He was a key leader during the 2007 student movement. He founded Futuro Presente, an NGO dedicated to the advancement of leadership and democratic values among Venezuelan youths.

Yon had recently moved back with his wife and children to Venezuela, after having spent four years abroad studying and working, in order to continue his political activism in favor of democracy. He is the fourth member of Voluntad Popular to be either detained or issued an arrest warrant in the past week.

Goicoechea is the father of two young children, Salas is the father of a baby girl.

Yon Goicoechea and Peter Salas are two more victims of an unscrupulous and repressive regime. Any evidence of wrongdoing is fabricated. The Venezuelan authorities must ensure their physical safety. We urge you to denounce these obscene and systematic violations of human rights in Venezuela so that repression and persecution of dissidence come to an end once and for all.

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