Is Voting NO in Cuba’s Referendum on the Constitution Enough?

Veronica Vega


HAVANA TIMES – Friends and acquaintances have been asking me: “Will you vote NO?”, as if it were a trivial question, because they already assume I will.

However, I must admit that this whole “election” business is tiring me out.

Even the State Security agent who “deals with us” (without us asking for his attention), paid us a visit to remind us that they wouldn’t allow any kind of protest relating to this clumsy show of a constitutional referendum.

They are worried that artists from the anti-349 campaign will stir things up, and things aren’t going particularly well as they are. There are more than enough reasons for this because this year hasn’t kicked off with any good news from our government.

In fact, things aren’t even the same, they’re worse. You just have to listen to what people are saying out on the street. They are a lot more direct and daring with their comments than I have ever heard before. As if bureaucracy, corruption, and all the other old distractions, were gradually breaking down to shed a light on the real culprit of so many decades of false hope.

Right now (and I’m only speaking for myself mind you), I doubt that voting NO will really change anything. I believe that refusing to take part in this simulation of a vote, of choosing and deciding, would be the best evidence of the truth, because we all know that everything has been carefully planned out and the result won’t be a surprise to anyone:

– A continuation of the Revolution (that’s to say, shortages and misery. The continuation of impossibilities, the gagging of progressive ideas, of direct critics, and any civic and spontaneous movement for change).

I believe that if political apathy is already endemic in our society, then it should appear in this referendum as it is, and people should stay at home precisely because they don’t believe in this vote. Even the pioneers (school kids) that watch over the ballot boxes and don’t have my generation’s innocence, because we believed in all that “man is the brother of man, long live the working-class! Earth will be Paradise, the beauty of humanity” (from “La Internacional”, the Communist hymn we were taught in the ‘70s).

I remember being in the fourth grade when I went to the polls [to guard the ballot box] for the first time. Oh, how excited I was thinking that I was representing the most noble Power, the one that would look out for so many poor people in the world and make us equals among our brothers and sisters, having just enough so we wouldn’t feel superior to anyone else.

Back then, I ignored the fact that ambition is a part of human nature and is the intrinsic expression of freedom, this word that we could (and can) only half-speak, depending on the context. Because if we demand it in its entirety, it becomes dangerously subversive.

Sixty years after this experience began, in the same shabby landscape, with no enthusiasm and nourished by fear (a fear that is becoming less instinctive, less blind and questioned more), we have the privilege of pretending that we are saying something by marking a NO on a ballot paper.

But, I have to admit that whoever raises their voice to vote the opposite of what we are expected to, is already moving in the right direction in this nonsensical panorama that is Cuba. For the first time ever, people are taking about dissenting in an official election. Although this dissident act is backed in the privacy of an improvised voting booth, under the protection that an unsigned ballot represents.

It’s an unprecedented opportunity for us all and if only it were the beginning of real change. 

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

2 thoughts on “Is Voting NO in Cuba’s Referendum on the Constitution Enough?

  • Hmmm Nick ,

    Democracy does not guarantee anything from a materialistic standpoint . It tends to give people a serious say about things tho .
    I don’t hold to your belief ( kinda an arrogant pseudo intellectual conspiracy theory ) that those holding the strings of mass media control the lives of those in democracies either . I’ll grant you they are a powerful element tho . That’s why In communist states they take
    “ absolute “ control of those levers .

  • ‘I believe that if political apathy is already endemic in our society’…..
    I wouldn’t argue with that comment.
    But I would also suggest that the same apples in many societies.
    There is a bunch of people who contribute here who ceaselessly crow about the necessity for ‘democracy’ with the type of alacrity that resembles some kind of devout religious fervour.
    This is despite the abject failure of ‘democratic’ processes within certain of their own beloved countries.
    Cubans now have a straight choice.
    A complex myriad of problems and issues are all to be defined by a lumpen binary poll….
    Winner takes all………
    If you wanna vote ‘NO’, then have the balls to vote NO and then deal with the consequences.
    If you wanna vote ‘YES’ then do so and deal with the different set of consequences.
    But just don’t come back complaining like itty bitty little hard-done-by lambs saying that you don’t get to vote on stuff……
    Like Communism, Democracy is overwhelmingly imperfect (not to mention subject to whomsoever controls the levers of propaganda)……….

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