On Monday August 29, political opposition leader Yon Goicoechea was kidnapped from his car after leaving his home in Caracas, Venezuela. Eyewitnesses later reported that the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) was responsible for Goicoechea’s detention, lending credit to Ian Vasquez’s claim that “the Venezuelan secret police” was behind the abduction. This raised international concern as SEBIN has a long history of human rights violations, including allegedly holding political prisoners in below freezing cells and subjecting them to “white torture."
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello later announced that Goicoechea had been arrested based on claims that the opposition leader was carrying explosives. However, in light of Goicoechea’s key role in the massive anti-government rallies planned later in the week, many find the timing troublesome and speculate that the action was politically motivated.
This unease is further aggravated by Cabello’s statements in a national television broadcast. “That man [Goicoechea] was trained by the U.S. empire for years,” he said. “It looks like his money ran out and he wants to come here to seek blood. They gave him the order there in the United States.”
The money Cabello refers to is the $500,000 awarded to all “Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty” recipients. As the Cato Institute explains, the prodigious prize is given to “an individual who has made a significant contribution to advance human freedom." Goicoechea fulfilled this mandate by leading a student movement which played an essential role in blocking constitutional reform designed to further empower Hugo Chavez. A fundamental tenet of this movement was the dedication to nonviolent protest, which further pokes holes in Cabello’s claims that Goicoechea was involved in terrorist activities.
Unfortunately, Goicoechea is hardly the first to suffer such a fate in Venezuela. Over the past several months, the regime has arrested numerous other political activists, including Harvard grad Gabriel San Miguel and Kennedy School of Government grad Francisco Marquez.
In response to the unlawful actions taken against Yon Goicoechea, the Students for Liberty (SFL) asks everyone to remember just how serious the fight for freedom truly is. Although the SFL is a Libertarian-based organization, it asks that we remember freedom transcends all political boundaries. As such, members further beg for support in “calling on the U.S. government and the international human rights community to put pressure on Venezuela to free Yon Goicoechea."
Share the image below with the hashtag #FreeYon to show your support or sign the petition.
Lead Image Credit: Yon Goicoechea|Twitter