While the longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro passed away just this last year, his ideology did not and even with his death, freedom of speech has come under assault. Recently, a Cuban artists known as El Sexto was jailed as a result of creating a sketch Cuban authorities said mocked the now deceased Castro. But it didn’t stop there. A US international human rights attorney, Kimberley Motley headed into Cuba herself to defend El Sexto at his trial, but she was then detained by local security agents. Motley has worked with Thor Halvorssen, the President of Human Rights Foundation who called Motley’s arrest an “outrageous abuse” of power, defining the evil that Cuba’s regime stands for. Halvorssen has spent years speaking out against regimes like the Castros.
Thor Halvorssen is quite a unique individual, and he’s had so many adventures in police state countries that you would need thousands of pages of books just to tell of his expeditions. His passion for fighting against tyranny comes from being raised in a politically active family, including seeing family members imprisoned for speaking out. He’s part Norwegian and part Venezuelan, roots that go back to the days his grandparents were fighting against Hitler in World War II. Even his cousin today is still spending time in a Venezuelan prison.
Halvorssen started the Human Rights Foundation to encourage more dissidents to challenge tyranny and to be bold about speaking for freedom. The Foundation holds annual meetings in Oslo, Norway where they give out the “Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent,” a prize awarded to those who’ve thought of unconventional ways to disrupt tyranny. Such things could involve smuggling contraband into dictatorship countries through water balloons, using self-built drones or other inconspicuous items, or making a statement through music or creative art. Halvorssen has been a part of many of these creative efforts, and has used just about every trick in the book to carry out his plans. He will make public appearances here and there, but likes to spend a lot of time off the grid protecting his identity from any prying government eyes.