Human Rights Lawyers Forced Into Exile

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After Being Forced into Exile in the Face of Persecution and Harassment, Cubalex Continues to Support Human Rights Efforts in Cuba

An extreme rarity in Cuba, the Center for Legal Information Cubalex offered free legal advice to Cubans about their human rights, investigated human rights issues by the Cuban state, and aided activists at risk. Due to their work, the Cubalex team themselves became targets of the Cuban state, culminating in September 2016 when the organization’s headquarters was searched without a warrant and officials confiscated their laptops and documents.

Following the raid, under the guise of an investigation into their “illegal economic activity,” members of the Cubalex team were summoned for questioning, and some were strip-searched or arbitrarily detained. Articles were published on pro-state blogs defaming Laritza Diversent, Cubalex’s executive director. This was not the first time the Cuban government targeted the organization and its members—in 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures to safeguard the lives of the organization’s staff due to a smear campaign and sustained harassment by government authorities following their participation in international human rights hearings.

The majority of the Cubalex team fled to the United States after the 2016 raid, although Cubalex staffer Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo remained arbitrarily detained until 2017. Today, Cubalex continues its work in exile but has had to overcome “radical and painful change,” including d