By Isaac Risco

Raul Castro at the recent CELAC Summit in Chile. Photo: TeleSur.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba will hold a parliamentary election on Sunday that should initiate the second term of President Raul Castro, which would start later this month, reported DPA news.

A total of 612 deputies will be elected to the National Assembly of People’s Power. After the elections — rejected by domestic opposition and that should elapse without surprises — it’s estimated that in late February the new legislature will confirm Raul Castro for another five years in power.

If the plan is carried out for limiting the mandates of top officials to a maximum of two consecutive terms, as proposed by Raul Castro in 2011, this upcoming period will be his last five years in office.

Also see: Why Cuba’s Elections Draw So Little Interest

The younger Castro formally took office on February 24, 2008, although he had held the position on an interim basis after the retirement of his brother Fidel, who stepped down due to illness in July 2006. Both brothers are among the 612 candidates officially nominated for the National Assembly.

Fidel Castro, 86, tops the list for the municipality of Santiago de Cuba, in the eastern province of that same name. Raul Castro, 81, is running for the Segundo Frente municipality, also in Santiago Province.

In addition to the 612 candidates for the National Assembly, delegates will be elected to the provincial assemblies from among 1,269 candidates.

All nominees are previously elected by municipal delegates on the island and by citizen’s assemblies. Dissidents and countries like the United States reject the elections in Cuban as democratic “farce.” The island doesn’t allow active campaigning or other political formations alongside the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

Around 8.4 million Cubans are being called to turn out to the polls on Sunday. Voters will be able to vote for one or all the candidates in their district, starting at 6:00 in the morning. According to the official media, voter participation has always been above 95 percent since the first elections held in 1976.

Many Cubans also privately criticize the little influence truly exerted by the legislature over the state apparatus, which is controlled by the Council of State and the top leadership around Raul Castro.

The elections, on the other hand, should continue the process of the rejuvenation of the political cadre led by Raul Castro. The president has repeatedly stressed the need to train new leaders because “time is short.”

Among the most influential politicians of the old guard who is retiring is Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon. The 75-year political has chaired the National Assembly since 1993 and was Fidel Castro’s foreign minister for a year (1992-1993).

Alarcon, who was a member of Fidel Castro’s historic July 26 Movement, is one of Cuba’s experts on relations with the United States.

Among the new faces will be that of Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, who is running for a position as deputy in Havana. The president’s daughter, 50, is known for her liberal positions in support of gay rights on the island.

Mariela Castro is seen abroad as the more “progressive” face of the Cuban government. It’s estimated, however, that her initiative for the legalization of gay marriage in Cuba was blocked by several historicos (old guard) within the Castro leadership circle.

Around 8.4 million Cubans are being called to turn out to the polls on Sunday. Voters will be able to cast their ballots for the slate or none or some of the candidates in their district, starting at 6:00 in the morning. According to the official media, voter participation has always been above 95 percent since the first elections held in 1976.


24 thoughts on “Cuba Readies Re-election of Raul Castro

  • The US has never accepted democracy in its “back yard”. What kind of regime do you think they would they have imposed on Cuba if the Bay of Pigs or the associated invasion plan had come off.

    Even if we look at events since the end of the cold war we can see that they don’t accept any criticism. Take US involvement in the coup against Chavez. They knew about it, they discussed it with the participants and were quick off the mark to recognize the new government. Take Bolivia, Evo Morales has recently claimed that he has irrefutable proof of US plotting against him and trying to destabilize the country. Also in Ecuador recently there have been reports of CIA plots to kill Correa

  • I undertand quite well what a dictator is. I’m just not a gullible as those who ape the Castro party line about the sham called “popular democracy”.

    If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. In this particular case, it’s a 54 year old olive green duck, a single-party, militaristic, oligarchic dictatorship.

  • No, you are still wrong or obviously don’t know what a dictatorship is. Being ruled by the same person does not make a country a dictatorship, after all he did get lawfully reelected every single time.
    And as I mentioned elsewhere, they cannot openly break the law to do whatever they want. They, at the very least play by the rules and while I agree that the parliament is functionally useless that’s not his doing is just the representatives doing a poor job for their electorate.

  • Moses, there is nothing preventing the opposition to meet each other, as a matter of fact that seems to be their only occupation. And the access to mass media is irrelevant in the context of the Cuban elections because no candidate is allowed to, meaning that both pro-government and opposition play in a level field in this regard.

    The fact is, only 14% of the Cuban population is member of the PCC. Add to that another 10% of members of the UJC politically aligned with the former and you still have 76% of the Cuban population not aligned with the party, and from that number only 10% are absentees or invalid voters.

    In other words, 66% of the population without any political alignment votes for the pro-government candidates, while everyone that wants the king of change championed by the dissidence is in a segment that is lower than 10% of the population. That’s why the Castros wins every time.

    The claim that US will influence Cuban politics in any way they can is not only an indisputable fact, is codified into US laws and both the president and congress are forced to enforce said laws at the best of their capabilities.

    Cuba has been 24 years in a deep economic crisis such as the world only sees after a war. In a few years they lost 50% of their economy, something roughly to the effects of the Great Depression in the US, and when something of that scale happens, all the values of the society deteriorates very quickly.

    Under such circumstances, lots of people look for a different perspective, one that can leads to a better future, but is indisputable that the main figures of the opposition are finding a lot of personal gain in the opposition business, some financial (as I’ve mentioned before, financing the opposition in Cuba is cheap) others try to get a ticket overseas for themselves and their families.

    And that’s what Cuban people see, add the lack of a coherent position and you get what you see, a vast majority of the population don’t trust them for the future of the country.

    DISCLAIMER: I want to make clear that I’m not implying that ALL members of the dissidence are in for the money and the easy life, but over the years the Cuban government has gathered and disclosed lots of information about the main dissidence leaders some of them quite revealing.

    PD: You are just being naïve. Humans are humans in the US and elsewhere in the world. In a crisis situation like the one we are discussing, where starving to death was not a far-off threat, people sell whatever they have to feed themselves and their family, morals and principles be damned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *