Cubanet, 4 November 2022 — “If you convince your daughter to stop what she does, then we will resolve your housing issues and the surgery you need,” two State Security agents said on Thursday to Maricelis Cambara, the mother of Laritza Diversent, Director of Cubalex, a Legal Information Center.
Cambara has a physical disability due to a childhood accident and has lost mobility in her left leg. According to the officials, it is within their power for her to have surgery to improve her quality of life and alleviate the pain she suffers.
The State Security agents “suggested” that she interfere in her daughter’s work. If she achieves that, as compensation, they’d give her a series of benefits, in addition to medical care, which is supposed to be public in Cuba and to which any one should have guaranteed access. They also promised that they’d cease the aggression, mostly verbal, from her neighbors, which she has been subjected to over the past several years.
Lastly, the political police stated that only if Diversent abandons her work as a defender of human rights will they allow her to reunite with her daughter. Paradoxically, it was that very political police who, in 2017, forced the Cubalex team into exile, without the possibility of returning to the country after it raided the organization’s office and threatened its members with prison.
During the encounter with Cambara, the agents preferred to disguise as “blackmail” their harassment and “soften” the exchange, in contrast to what has occurred in the past. In August 2021, one of those agents who now visited her, along with another repressor, tacitly threatened her.
At that time, 63 year-old Cambara was warned that even she could be tried for her daughter’s work. At the same time, they also threatened that they could intercept Diversent in the United States or another country and take her to Cuba to try her. At that time, Cambara was with her own mother who was ailing and who died a few days later. Now, once again, the regime’s agents take advantage of a vulnerable situation to attack her; only three days earlier her brother began showing signs of dementia.
The agents told Cambera that they’d visit her again to know her daughter’s response.
With respect to this, the Director of Cubalex stated to CubaNet that State Security is using her mother to pressure her. Apparently, they aim to suffocate the legal aid work the organization does, as well as her ability to provide visibility at the international level to violations of human rights in Cuba.
“This convinces me that we must continue doing the work because we are doing something right. If Cubalex didn’t worry them, they would not harass a 63-year-old disabled woman,” the lawyer told CubaNet.
The lawyer made it clear that she would not negotiate with, nor concede to the Cuban dictatorship or its repressive organizations. “The work of Cubalex transcends me. I am here to direct, but I am not the whole organization. It goes without saying that I will not be blackmailed to use my leadership position to reverse the organization,” she points out.
“If tomorrow I resign so that they leave my mother in peace, Cubalex will continue existing and working, which is what Cuba needs,” she concluded.
*This article was originally published, in Spanish, on Cubanet
Translated by: Silvia Suárez