By Victor Manuel
HAVANA TIMES — According to the Cuban State Council’s announcement, there will be general “elections” this October. A lot of people ask themselves about the changes that Raul Castro promised in the Cuban Electoral Law.
Is it the most democratic electoral law in the world?
There aren’t elections in Cuba, just votes. There aren’t elections because to choose someone, different projects need to exist and here, there is only one legal party to which absolutely every party representative and lawmaker responds. It is the same thing to vote for any of the people nominated.
Every time one of these People’s Power “elections” come around (which is only for the people in its name), government media overwhelm us with references to our Electoral Law’s alleged good nature, which is the most democratic in the world according to them.
It’s a trick. The only supposedly democratic thing about our election system is the election of candidates to be party representatives in their reduced district. It’s true that neighbors, in each of these areas where their district is divided, choose a candidate via a direct and public vote, this is the visible tip of the iceberg. The hidden part of this iceberg is made up of many meetings of “the revolutionary factors within the community” – read here Party members, military, leaders of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC), etc. – where they advise on how to block any candidate who is unwanted by the authorities and who they should vote for.
People who are present at the polling station table, are subordinated to the government’s orders. They count the votes and give the result in front of those who are in the running at every polling station, but the Cuban people don’t have access to the vote count in the Municipal Election Committee, which is the body that receives the results from each polling station in the district and then announces who was elected.
Both the “representative” and their voters lack any real Power to make decisions and to transform their neighborhood and that’s why the former has become a mere complaints clerk.
Lastly, 50% of the representatives at the Provincial Assemblies of the People’s Power and the same number of lawmakers who make up the National Assembly, aren’t chosen by the people but “hand-picked” by the government’s Nominations Committee. There will never be a decent, hard-working and patriotic Cuban at these assemblies who differs from the Communist ideology. So just how democratic is this Law?
Is the Republic “for all and for the well-being of all Cubans”?
The 1976 Constitution, in its preface states that it is the government’s will that the King of Laws is dominated by a deep Marti-esque longing to make our Republic’s constitution the worship of the Cuban people to ensure man’s full dignity.
In the First Article of this Constitution, it states: “Cuba is a socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a united, democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective welfare, and human solidarity.”
The writers of the socialist Constitution confirmed in writing that this longing was fulfilled. However, reality, which is more stubborn than any triumphalist phrase, reveals that the Cuban State isn’t organized “for all and for the wellbeing of all Cubans”, like Marti dreamed of it being, it’s just for the “revolutionaries”. The rest of Cuban citizens are excluded and discriminated against. This proves that there is just one party which has taken the place of the State and is controlling everything, banning the existence of any other organization of this kind.
In such conditions, there is no democracy or political freedom. There isn’t social justice, because to have access to certain job positions and university degrees, you need to be loyal to the Communist Party and the Revolution.
There isn’t individual wellbeing because workers receive poor incomes and have to buy basic items in a currency which they aren’t paid in and which costs 25 times more. There isn’t any human solidarity because there is physical aggression and intolerance in the face of difference, which was proved at the last Summit of the Americas. What full dignity were the Communists talking about?
What do new generations of Cubans want?
What many Cubans do want is to be able to enjoy the same civil and political rights that citizens in 34 countries within the continent currently have. They want this absolute State power to be decentralized and for democracy to be built from the ground up in neighborhoods, because sovereignty lies in the people and they need the means to be able to express themselves. This is why any decision made by a leader, who claims to represent the interests of all Cuban but who hasn’t been elected by ordinary Cubans or, without consulting the general population’s opinion, is totally illegitimate. Cubans want to be able to choose people who really represent them at all government levels, not just accomodating people who lack any criticism.
They want every lawmaker in the Provincial Assemblies of the People’s Power and lawmaker at the National Assembly to be chosen via a direct and secret ballot (just so you know, in Cuba this process is undertaken by the Nominations Committee and people can only choose among the candidates put forward by this body. The same thing happens with those who lead these government bodies, and other important institutions such as the Attorney General, Courts and Police.
Many Cubans want to be able to choose the political project that best suits their needs and to choose a president in a multi-party election, which is monitored by international organizations.
However, unfortunately, none of this will be at the polling station next October, it will just be more of what they call Revolution.