14ymedio, Havana, 17December 2016 — The US lawyer arrested Friday in Havana could become a nightmare for the Cuban government. Kimberley Motley traveled to Cuba to advise on the case of the artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth), and was arrested and held for some hours, prompting a wave of international condemnation.
Motley has worked in environments such as Afghanistan where she traveled in 2008 as part of a legal aid program. During her nine-month stay in the country she understood “how laws that were meant to protect people were being underused, while brutal and illegal measures were being overused.”
The American lawyer became the first foreigner to litigate in the Afghan courts, an experience that helped her realize that “the lack of justice is not only a problem in Afghanistan, but a global problem.”
During the more than ten years she has practiced law, Motley has represented people ranging from high-ranking executives of prestigious companies, to Afghan girls with few resources. The premise of her work is “to work the system from within,” and to use “the laws in the way they are meant to be used.”
Born in 1976 in Milwaukee, United States, Motley won the Miss Wisconsin beauty pageant in 2004 and is the mother of three children.
The lawyer believes that many injustices are committed because people do not know “what their rights are,” laws are “supplanted or ignored by tribal customs” or there are no “lawyers who are willing to fight for those laws.”
These premises brought her to Havana this December to advise on the case of the graffiti artist El Sexto, detained since November 26 after painting a graffiti about the death of Fidel Castro with two simple words: “Se fue” (He’s gone).
Motley’s arrest this Friday adds to the risks that she has experienced in her career. “I have been temporarily detained. I have been accused of running a brothel, accused of being a spy,” she says in a Ted Talk that has gone viral on the internet.
The lawyer points out that for all the risks she runs, her clients run “much greater risks, because they have much more to lose if their cases are not heard.”
This Saturday the attorney was released but the echoes of her arrest are just beginning. A figure with great media and public impact, Motley calls “to create a world economy of human rights and that we all become global investors in human rights.”