Venezuelan Regime Kidnaps 2008 Friedman Prize Winner Yon Goicoechea
Pro-democracy leader Yon Goicoechea, winner of the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, was arrested Monday in Venezuela.
Goicoechea’s detention comes just prior to massive popular protests against the government that are planned for this Thursday.
“Sticking to the pattern it has followed over the past few years as the crisis has deepened, the regime is doubling down on repression rather than adjusting to political or economic reality,” says Cato scholar Ian Vásquez. “His kidnapping shows just how insecure the regime has become and the importance of speaking truth to power.”
Diosdado Cabello, the second most powerful person in the regime, publicly announced that the government had arrested Yon on the bogus claim that he was carrying explosives. In the video broadcast on national television, Cabello referred to the $500,000 Friedman Prize award that Yon received as evidence that Yon was some sort of foreign-employed agent bent on terrorism.
“That man was trained by the U.S. empire for years,” Cabello 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.”
This is an old trick of the Chavista regime—distract attention from the severe political, economic and social crisis that it has inflicted on the country. Venezuela’s so-called Socialism of the 21st Century has produced shortages of everything from food and water, to medicine and electricity. Hunger is becoming widespread, the rate of violence is among the worst in the world, and the regime has become extremely unpopular.
Nobody is sure exactly where Yon is being held or under what conditions (though we believe he is in a cell at the headquarters of the secret police in Caracas). The Venezuelan government stopped being democratic and respecting the rule of law years ago, but we nevertheless call on it to release Yon immediately and treat him with the basic rights to due process that should be afforded to any Venezuelan citizen.