Elio Delgado Legón
HAVANA TIMES — Local elections take place in Cuba every two and a half years for delegates to the Municipal Assembles, the equivalent of city councilors in other political systems. The most recent vote took place on Sunday April 19 with runoffs on April 26.
Once these Assemblies are formed, the members elect one of themselves to become President and another to become Vice-President (Mayor and Deputy Mayor), who then serve two and a half year terms, in all of the country’s municipalities.
A friend suggested that I should refrain from writing that these elections are the world’s most democratic; however, after sitting down and thinking long and hard about it, I came to the conclusion that, if they are not the most democratic, they are at least one of the most democratic, and I say that for several reasons:
1.- No political party tells us the candidates we should vote for. Neighborhood residents propose their own candidates and then they decide on who to vote for.
2.- You don’t need money to be elected in any election, not in the municipal nor in the national elections, and there are no election campaigns, which are normally quite expensive.
3.- If at any time, the voters feel that their representative is not doing his/her job, they can ask for his/her term to be revoked and can then choose a new representative.
Some people argue that these representatives don’t resolve their district’s problems; but, I ask myself: When and in which political system has a representative or city councilor resolved a neighborhood issue? What the representative does, amongst other activities, is process the problem and communicates the needs of the neighborhood to the corresponding bodies, which are responsible for fixing these problems.
For example, on my block, some street lights were missing, and my representative, who is very efficient, dealt with the Electric Company so that they could replace the lights that were missing. They came and made a note of the situation, however, it took quite a while for them to fix them, because they had to first attend to other areas which were in more desperate need of lights than us. This is an example of what a representative’s job entails, as well as forming part of the Municipal Assembly where they discuss the municipality’s problems and can bring up their needs if need be, which is then included in the municipal budget.
It is also worth remembering the fact that these representatives carry out their role without receiving any pay, although their workplace is obliged by law to facilitate them being able to fulfill their role. Personally, I do believe that they should receive additional remuneration to their normal job salary, because a representative has to put in a lot of effort and they deserve this incentive.
Our democracy could be without doubt improved, such is the way with anything that human kind has created, but it won’t improve by creating political parties and returning to the politicking of yesteryear.
We’ll never return to the past. We have to keep on forward and perfect our socialism in order to make it even more prosperous and sustainable. I feel sorry for those backward thinking minds that dream of bringing capitalism back to Cuba, even though they might not openly admit it.
These last election results send them a clear message: mass participation, with over 90% of valid ballots, means undeniable support for the Revolution and our political system.