Elections in Cuba

Osmel Almaguer

We are now in the process leading up to electing local delegates to represent districts in our Municipal Assemblies.

A delegate is similar to a city councilperson, but with much less power. The position is a formal tool that doesn’t fulfill the functions for which it was created; what’s more, they aren’t paid a dime for their work.

The prevailing social degradation has rendered their efforts ineffective. Many state utility company bosses and other business executives, to whom the delegates must present the neighborhoods problems, are there to solve their own individual problems, which is why the delegates no longer fulfill a social objective. Nor do they collaborate with the community, which is also a part of their duties. Of course there are exceptions.

Faced with this situation, delegates too have changed their position. Many of those who seek nomination are thinking of their own personal benefits, or they’re simply convinced to run by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) when no one else is interested in the office.

In my neighborhood there’s a fellow who has been elected nine times, and in each term he’s managed to get a house for one of his many children by pulling illicit strings.

During my participation in the Electoral Commission in my district, I discovered many things I didn’t like, such as the misrepresentation of attendance information at candidate nomination meetings and pressure from the Communist Party (PCC) to tip the scale in favor of candidate that suited it.

I remember one occasion in which only 51 percent of the voters attended the assembly for nominating candidates to become delegates. The municipal instructor of the PCC “directed” that attendance be reported as 95 percent.

A turnout of 51 percent was not bad due to the rural layout of the area and the separation between houses. However he wanted 95 percent because otherwise his bosses would sanction him without attempting to understand the reason for the relatively low number.

I think that the chain of fraud ascends to the higher level rungs, because the boss below always wants to demonstrate to his superior that he’s is doing a good job. I believe they all ignore the fact that good work is performed with quality, and not necessarily with quantity.

Notwithstanding, based on such figures, support for the Revolution by the people is announced at the international level through participation in elections.

My uncle is the secretary of the Party in my district, and I know he’s the person who decides who they propose for nomination. How? – easy. People these days show so much indifference for these matters that no one proposes anybody. At the same time, almost no one wants to be proposed.

That’s when my uncle enters the game looking for two or three trustworthy people. He tells people they are being proposed because they are needed by the PCC. The person proposed by the “friends” of my uncle wins the backing of indifferent voters because “it’s a psychological advantage when a person is proposed and seconded by several citizens.

I should also highlight the low level of education of the members of the Electoral Boards. This is due to the fact that these are made up of local residents, and sometimes there doesn’t exist enough “human material” in a territory.

It seems to me that if the government is making an effort to eliminate free services offered by the State to people, it should consider eliminating the free services offered by the people to the State: it should develop specialized and salaried electoral commissions. This same principle could be applied to countless cases, like the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), blood donations, etc.

The defects of capitalist elections are repeated by heart in our country, but I believe that the time is coming to raise our voices to point out our own blemishes; that will be the point of departure for improvement.