Voting Day in Cuba

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – It’s Sunday November 27th, just another day. My first thought is a natural question, what will I have for breakfast? The answer couldn’t be clearer.

It seems like I’ll have to make do with bodega store bread, for the first time in many years. My powdered milk ran out after sharing it with my daughter and the person who sells it to me doesn’t have any at the moment.

Yesterday, I’d asked for a bottle of plain yogurt from a woman who I discovered makes it herself but she couldn’t promise me anything, it’s in high demand and there isn’t a lot around.

“Well, let’s eat the bodega bread roll with a bit of oil and garlic,” I was thinking when I hear my neighbor’s voice telling me, “Pedrito, that woman is telling you to call her.”

I dial her number, she tells me to go and pick up a bottle of yogurt because the people who had asked for it didn’t go to pick it up yesterday, she tells me to bring a plastic bag so nobody can see it, she doesn’t want people to know she’s selling it, she tells me to bring 100 pesos, to not go in through the front, but to go round and in through the backyard. Damn, a whole intelligence operation just to get a bottle of yogurt.

I happily abide and follow her instructions carefully; we also form a partnership. I will always pay her in cash, not like others who don’t pay their debts and pretend to cheat everyone. It was a successful mission; it seems like breakfast is a done deal. 

I go back home and my morning flies by between tidying up the house a little, sorting out the backyard and talking to my neighbor – who tells me about her glory days, when she was the most beautiful woman in the town (which I can attest to as she was like my platonic love when I was 14).

I make some lunch, have a shower and head for Pinar del Rio city, I’ve enjoyed being alone for over 24 hours, I’ve recharged my batteries and it’s time to fight. I get onboard a truck after an hour.

I reach my destination, but not without first passing by a polling station, the old Virgilio Piñera theater. It’s pretty much empty, just a handful of people, who seem to be on the election board.

Then, I remember that it’s voting day. I received two SMS’ yesterday from the “National Election Commission” (CEN) urging me “to exercise my right to vote”, but I’d completely forgotten about it. There is so much hardship, abuse, impertinence and frustration that I’ve tried to remain in a state of zen recently.

Today is a day that many Cubans go to the polling station like robots, to check any box on the ballot without knowing who the candidates are, just for the hell of it, because somebody has ordered them to… because they must comply.

A candidate that becomes a neighborhood representative doesn’t represent anyone, nor do they have any decision-making power to improve their community’s life, because a select few have been holding onto real power for decades, whom nobody has elected or nominated. Most candidates actually pray they aren’t elected.

While I used to go to these places and write the biggest NO I could on the ballot paper, now I don’t even think about going near a place like this out of self-respect.

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Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

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