The Organization of the Cuban State and Government

Elio Delgado Legon

Situated around Revolution Square are the buildings that house the Councils of Ministers and State, the Communist Party Central Committee, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Telecommunications Ministry and the National Library. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, March 19 — Those who assert that the government in Cuba is a dictatorship are deliberately lying. In my previous article I explained how all members of government are elected, be it the most modest member of a municipal assembly or a deputy to the National Assembly.

These latter representatives, I repeat, elect the members of the Council of State from among their fellow deputies by direct secret ballot.

Under Section 89 of the Cuban Constitution, “Between sessions of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the Council of State is the body that executes the agreements and complies with the other functions that the constitution attributes to it.

“It is the highest representative of the Cuban state in relation to national and international purposes.”

Photo: Caridad

Article 90 of the constitution itself defines in detail the functions of the Council of State, and Article 91 states: “All decisions of the Council of State are adopted by an affirmative vote by a simple majority of its members.”

Understanding this, can anyone really not have bad intentions when they assert that a dictatorship exists in Cuba?

Everyone knows that children and grandchildren of the people linked to the bloody Batista dictatorship, who fled Cuba in 1959, have never forgiven the Cuban Revolution for overthrowing that tyranny.

Photo: Caridad

Therefore they’ve invented a whole host of slanderous accusations that are repeated through the transnational media to convince people who don’t know Cuba of those falsehoods.

The people of Cuba would never accept a dictatorship without fighting against it. Thousands of Cubans, the best of the country’s youth, were killed when struggling against dictatorships – first, that of Gerardo Machado and later during the two periods of the rule of Fulgencio Batista. However the current Cuban government enjoys overwhelming and spontaneous support like never seen before.

It’s admirable to see the support it receives, especially from youth — young workers as well as students — at a time when the world’s young people are constantly repressed by riot troops, tear gas and water hoses only for asking for things to which youth here have full rights, such as free education.

Young Cubans only take to the streets to recall and honor their martyrs and to support the revolutionary process.

Plaza Vieja. Photo: Caridad

One only has to look at the photos of the public events that are held here every May Day, on International Workers Day, to cite just one example. The enemies of the revolution have invented fallacies by saying such things like attendance at these events are mandatory under the threat of one losing their job.

But is it possible to force an entire people to also be so enthusiastic and to display their joy in participating in such acts and in supporting the revolution?

In Cuba, all important issues and legislation that impact the entire population are discussed with everyone, as happened with the “Guidelines” (economic reform document) prior to the Sixth Party Congress, which I previously discussed.

The Constitution of the Republic, which was enacted in 1976, collected the opinions of millions of Cubans and was then subjected to a referendum in which more than 97 percent of the eligible voters participated and was approved by 97.7 percent of the valid votes. In other words, only 2.3 percent of the adult population in Cuba didn’t approve of that constitution. So can this situation be called a dictatorship?

I’ve read some opinions that say that those people who disagree with socialism should have someone to represent them in parliament.

Assuming an amendment to the constitution was to be made and the approval of the creation of electoral parties, I wonder how 2.3 percent of the voters fragmented into several different parties could elect someone to represent them?

7 thoughts on “The Organization of the Cuban State and Government

  • Moses,

    Anyone can go and cast a blank or defaced ballot and since the ballots are secret, no one including the CDR people can tell who cast that blank vote .

    Were the government or the economic system so bad , there would be many more people out in the streets .

    I think, as a counter-revolutionary, you are involved in wishful thinking.

  • Dani,
    Rule number one in politics. never believe your own propaganda!

    Poland was probably the only country in th Soviet sphere without a single communist left (they had all been murdered by Stalin. The party that won an election bore no resemblance to the old one. In East Germany the PDS, now the Left PArty crumbled especially where it entered regional goverrnments. This is particularly obvious in East Berlin where the vote halved.
    I believe the Communist Party of Cuba would initially receive and temporarily maintain a strong vote of a third of the population after it had expeleld many former leading party members. Afterwards all will depend on the economy.

  • Elio’s comments ignore the reality that exists in Cuba. If someone does not vote, someone from the government or CDR knocks on your door to ask why. There is an implied intimidation in that visit. Turnout is hardly a reflection of voter enthusiam. May Day attendence is mandatory. Every State job site writes down the names of the people who attend the march and those who don’t. More intimidation. Since most Cubans work for the State, few Cubans want to risk the negative possibilities associated with not voting or not attending marches. Cubans on the street say it doesn’t matter who you vote for because the people Cubans actually vote for don’t decide anything anyway. Does Elio really believe that if the Cuban people has the chance to vote directly for Raul he would be reelected? Fidel once said “we don’t need elections”. Besides it is not that fact that Cuba is a dictatorship that is the cause of Cuba’s economic problems. It is the repression, paranoia and intransient governance that has kept Cuba locked in disastrous economy.

    It is obvious that Elio confuses the absence of youth protests in Cuba with tacit support for the regime. With all due respect, what Cuban youth who witnesses the violence and repudiation meted out against the Ladies in White would be willing to risk their life to organize or even attend a protest. I protest because I can. It is my right as a citizen. If I were Cuban I would not have that right.

  • Thank you, Elio, for standing up for the governmental system in Cuba. You prove that Havana Times (HT) is an open forum and should be respected as such.

    I don’t think that most of those writing in HT are as critical of socialist state power, as they are of certain aspects of the state power that stand in the way of refining and perfecting Cuban socialism. The problem seems more to be that the governmental system is paralyzed by an ossified bureaucracy that chokes up social production and blocks any sort of creative, progressive change.

    Also, Article 5 of your constitution apparently declares that Marxism-Leninism is the official ideology of the country, and that the PCC is the leading party in perpetuity. This is absurd and undemocratic. It is equivalent to establishing a state religion, and the authority of a political clergy over society for all time. Article 5 should be rescinded, and people should be able legally to organize and agitate for political and social changes without fear of governmental retribution. Those loyal to socialism should be able to organize and advocate refinement of Cuban socialism without fear of retribution.

  • Remember the reverse is also true. Many of the parties in power in Latin America today (eg Nicaragua and El Salvador) were dismissed by Reagan and Bush as unrepresentative. The British Government always maintained that Sinn Fein only represented a tiny minority. Even in eastern Europe some of the previous communist parties have either got back into power (Poland), or get a respectable number of votes (East Germany). It is really difficult to say what would happen in a multiparty election, but I doubt if support would collapse completely (see wikileaks).

  • Elio, you are a real cracker. Without your articles the world would be truly lacking in humour.
    However, all that you wrote could have been written by a Bulgarian, Czech, Slovak or East German Elio in 1988. Only the then multi-party elections turned out rather differently. Therefore the 95%, John, is a figure in motion.
    But even if you were right that the opposition would just get 2.3% of the vote. A multi-party system also means public debates and public questioning of the leadership, a questioning of their privileges, the death sentences of 2003, the restrictions on movement within the country or to exit Cuba and so forth. Elio, your Cuba would crumble like a house of cards! 95% do not support every single silliness of the present rulers.

  • Good article Elio although you run the risk of appearing much like Granma in just printing the good news.

    It cannot be said that Poder Popular is working as it was set up to do because of the stratification wherein those at the top override and intimidate those at the bottom who have legitimate concerns .

    I fully realize that you feel the need , as do I , to present Cuba and PP in the best light possible and to make its structure and function better known to a near -totally ignorant U.S . audience and that space and time constraints prevent writing here the book necessary to get all the pros and cons enumerated.

    Thank you for this:
    “I’ve read some opinions that say that those people who disagree with socialism should have someone to represent them in parliament.

    Assuming an amendment to the constitution was to be made and the approval of the creation of electoral parties, I wonder how 2.3 percent of the voters fragmented into several different parties could elect someone to represent them?”

    That is a question I have always been asked by those who call for a multi-party system in Cuba and considering that in a typical Cuban election there are perhaps 5% of the ballots that are defaced or in other ways indicative of people wanting a change to something other than (state) socialism and this across the entire island, how could a party opposed to what 95% or more want in the country succeed in not only getting together to form a party given time and distances but how could they ever elect anyone even at the municipal level given their low and scattered numbers. ?

    It is akin to having a successful communist party in the United States .

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