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.