Photo: venceremos.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Supporters of the Cuban group Participative and Democratic Socialism (SPD) are calling on citizens to take part in “an affirmative action for democracy” in the upcoming general elections to take place in October.

The SPD group includes Pedro Campos, Miguel Arencibia, Hibert García, Ramón García, Félix Guerra, Orlando Ocaña and other participant.

The following is the HT translation of the statement issued by SPD:

An Affirmative Action for Democracy

Cuba will soon be holding elections for municipal delegates, and later for provincial delegates and national deputies. Yet democratic deficits hinder the electoral law 72/1992 and the overall current political system. The growing consensus is that this system must be democratized.

President Raul Castro himself said that what’s necessary is “more democracy for the party and society” – words that should be honored. We don’t expect this to be done by others; we will have to honor those words ourselves. Let’s do something concrete after first considering the following.

To democratize the system, three basic demands are key, ones that are shared by many democrats, pacifists, socialists and Cuban patriots:

1- The election of the president and vice president must be by direct vote and secret ballot by all citizens.

2- The government must ratify all signed human rights conventions, readjust national legislation to reflect these and respect all civil rights and liberties, political and economic rights, and social and cultural rights of all Cubans – especially freedom of expression, movement, association and the discussion of ideas

3- Laws affecting all citizens must be submitted to a popular referendum.

How to promote these

The electoral law contains valid elements for its democratization:

1- The vote is secret

2- Nothing prevents casting a blank ballot

3- Voters can be present at the vote counting at polling stations (Paragraph D, Article 4, Law 72)

Up until now, however, those people disaffected with the political and electoral system have chosen not to go to the polls, cast blank ballots or to annul them. According to official data, the sum of these three categories was 508,553 voters in the 2003 elections and 735,581 in those of 2008. The non-affiliated protest votes were 660,990 (2003) and 705,440 (2008). Combining these figures for the last two elections, we come up with 1,169,543 popular votes of no confidence in 2003 and a larger figure of 1,441,021 votes in 2008.

If this sentiment could reach a consensus, these voters could succeed at unifying and identifying themselves with those three demands, which could be symbolized by a “D” (for “democracy”) written on their ballots and then counted independently. We would then know the number of voters in favor of democratization.

As for Cubans abroad, who are excluded from the system, most of them would probably vote for those three demands for democratization. If we added that outside vote (also identified and counted) to the internal vote for democratization, a significant percentage of Cubans would reveal themselves as being in support of democratizing the current political and electoral system. And no one could ignore this.

For some people, elections and voting allow for official manipulation, but what really makes this manipulation possible is people not turning out at the polls, casting blank ballots or annulling them, and — above all — not  participating in the vote count, which is legal. For others, participating in elections legitimizes the electoral process. And it is indeed legitimized by a high turnout, but the reasons don’t matter.

Some people vote to not be “marked” (singled out) or to avoid “retaliation.” But no one will be “marked,” nor would they be subject to victimization for turning out to vote. The vote is secret. Voting “D” in the blank column would allow us to know how many people support democratization, whether or not the election commission annuls that vote.

Flowing from this analysis and convinced that there can be no socialism without democracy, some of us supporters of SPD (the Participatory and Democratic Socialism platform) will participate in the elections, but we will do this so that we can vote “D” (symbolizing the three demands for democratizing the political and electoral system) and we will then participate in the counting of votes at the polls. All advocates of democracy and human rights have the real opportunity to do so.

“Vote D” isn’t a campaign. It isn’t directed against anyone. It’s not illegal. It’s not a boycott. It isn’t civil disobedience and it’s not violent.

It is affirmative action for democratization.

 


3 thoughts on “Call to Vote “D” in Cuban Elections

  • Why would you assume that I am not interested in the myriad of problems facing my own country? This blog is called HavanaTimes and it is not appropriate to discuss issues facing any other country here or didn´t you know that?

  • Are you concentrating on the deterrences to democracy in Cuba to take the heat off of looking at what’s currently taking place in your country – massive money in the billions being spent to mostly throw dirt on opponents, voter registration requirements that disenfranchise people less well off, a Neanderthal electoral college system and relentless gerrymandering to negate popular votes, massive, powerful lobby groups that fund candidates running against anyone who disagrees with their special interest – the Israel Lobby is prime in this area – and funding of dissent groups around the world, including Cuba, to foster regime change?

    Just wondering why an American is so interested in Cuba while ignoring what’s wrong in his own country, and balancing the picture somewhat…

  • The combination of fear of retaliation and voter apathy must be overcome for this noble effort to succeed in gathering enough “D” votes from the Cuban voters to warrant further action. The lack of an official means to campaign of behalf of this effort and the obvious and certain resistance from State Security are two additional obstacles which will work against success. Finally, what guarantees have the organizers that even with millions of “D” votes collected, the dictatorship will not simply ignore the count and continue with business as usual? The Varela Project was legal and widely supported internationally and yet produced little if any of the fruits of the democracy desired. Worse yet, it earned it’s primary organizer a date with fate. Nonetheless, I wish this humble group all the success. Something is better than nothing.

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