Erasmo Calzadilla

Sunday was Election Day in Cuba. Photo: Caridad

On Election Day last Sunday, I was wrapped up in a family drama.  As I didn’t sleep at home the night before, I called my mother early that morning to tell her I wasn’t going to vote.

For years I had been mustering the courage to do something like this, but this was the first time I had reached the point of taking action.

I’ve heard that these types of neighborhood-based elections are among the most progressive and revolutionary in the world, but here in Cuba at least, they serve as the perfect mechanism for keeping things just like they are while also legitimizing them with the popular vote.

The explanation of the details of the Cuban system electoral I’ll leave to the theoreticians so that I can continue with the story about my mother.

Before she began calling and hassling me to show up and vote, I took the initiative and explained my decision to her on the phone.

It was then that the moaning and groaning began.  She started telling me I was going to get a bad name in the building, I won’t ever get a good job again, etc. etc., and she may be right.

Understanding that she wasn’t going to achieve anything that way, my mom switched to a second tack: She used the story (not completely farfetched) that doing something like that would harm the family.  Her argument was strong, and in past years it would have created doubts in me, but this time I wasn’t going to buy it.  I have accepted them, even though they don’t think the same way as me, so they should do the same.

In a last attempt to “fix” things, Olguita (my mom) proposed lying to the people from the board of elections when they came to our house asking for me. She was going to tell them I was out of the province and wouldn’t get back in time. However, I also quashed that idea of hers. The courage I had marshaled ended up being enough to prevent me from going into hiding.

The main reason for not exercising my right to vote is precisely my non-acceptance of such mechanisms like pressure that put fear in the heart of mother; I simply don’t want to legitimize something like that.


Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

13 thoughts on “My Mom’s Fears

  • Luis I disagree
    Do you think Obama is the same as Bush?

    So voting does make a difference!
    Big difference.

  • No Julio, I don’t think that – you’re putting words in my mouth… again.

    But what do I think? Well, let me only say that Emma Goldman made a lot of sense when she said that ‘if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal’.

  • Since the beginning of the revolution, the bureaucrats weren’t actually required to do anything but take consultation with the workers. Guevara as ministry of industry held the bureaucrats’ feet to the fire to make this a meaningful process but as soon as he was gone, meaningful participation in the economic decisions by the people was streamlined to tokens, so that the lives of the bureaucrats would be easier. No more visiting the work places every week, no more working with the various work places on monthly basis. Just their cozy air conditioned offices, luncheons, the best facilities like housing, etc.
    This is simply a coordinator class and a betrayal of the revolution. Even the most ardent sons and daughters of the revolution, from major revolutionary families see through the consultations and participation at the low levels like neighbourhoods as nothing but a reuse. Meaningful participation by the people hardly exists.
    Abajo con la clase coordinadora!

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