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August 31, 2016

Secret police have arrested Yon Goicoechea, a pro-freedom activist critical of the Venezuelan government. Diosdado Cabello, President of Venezuela's legislature and a member of the Venezuelan military, confirmed Goicoechea's detention in a broadcast on state-controlled TV. In 2008, Goicoechea won the Cato Institute's Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty for leading the student protest movement in Venezuela. He succeeded in defeating constitutional reforms which would have given Hugo Chavez unprecedented authoritarian power. But now, the Venezuelan government is using his award to claim that Goicoechea was "trained by the US empire for years" as an agitator. Goicoechea's wife and friends say that his arrest is an attempt to distract from the problems created by Venezuela's socialist government. Once among the wealthiest nations in South America, after nationalizing major industries, enacting wage and price controls, and imposing other severe restrictions on the economy, Venezuelans are currently experiencing unending shortages of basic goods and services, mass starvation, a shocking 500% inflation rate, and one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. News of Yon Goicoechea's arrest comes shortly after the Venezuelan government announced a new law creating forced labor in the country.