The Useless Diversity of the Cuban Parliament

Official propaganda defines the Cuban Parliament as a showcase of national diversity. (Minrex)

The supposed balance fails to disturb the monopoly of that political tendency that is manifested in more than 90% of communist militancy

By Reinaldo Escobar (14ymedio) 

HAVANA TIMES – Beyond any semantic or etymological definition, the action of parleying is always interpreted as an act of negotiation between individuals or entities that, having different interests, try to reach an agreement.

Hence, the most desirable feature of a Parliament, as a government formula, is that the various political tendencies are represented in it, provided that their presence is proportional to the preference of the citizens expressed in the vote. Easy to say.

Since 1976, Cuba has had a kind of Parliament called the National Assembly of People’s Power. The official propaganda defines it as a showcase of national diversity, which is intended to be demonstrated with the data of its composition that reflect how many women and men, whites, blacks and mestizos, artists, athletes, scientists, workers and farmers, have a seat.

It is significant, even surprising, that the balance in the proportions of this diversity is the product of the random will of the proponents and not (as it seems to be) the result of meticulous planning.

But a balance based on the variety of genders, ages, races and occupational profiles, even when it responds to a mathematical model in relation to the proportion of these elements in reality, fails to disturb the monopoly of that political tendency that manifests itself in a more that 90% communist militancy. A militancy — that is active membership in the Communist party — which in real life does not exceed 7% of the population.

This perhaps explains why, in almost half a century, not a single proposal brought by the Government to Parliament has been disapproved, and even worse, that they have all been approved unanimously or by an overwhelming majority. It’s called partisan discipline.

The fact that the only political party allowed in the country is the Communist Party, like its youth organization, does not mean that there are not other citizens who feel liberal, Christian-Democratic, social-democratic, environmentalist or any other denomination and, even more so, who would like to see themselves represented in Parliament and who, given the opportunity to freely present their proposals, would have followers, meaning voters.

To make matters worse, when the voting process (not the election) takes place to approve the candidacy of the deputies to Parliament, the voters only know the photo and a biographical summary of the candidates that they have to approve according to their municipality.* Election campaigning is prohibited and with this prohibition the promotion of different platforms that compete to conquer the electorate is prevented.

When in the polling station a citizen votes in favor of the candidacy of one of those proposed on the list for their district, they find out that the candidate served on some internationalist mission, is an engineer and is 42 years old, but the voter does not have the slightest idea of ​​how this candidate will raise their hand in Parliament when something that interests this voter is being discussed.

If that deputy is the one who is going to vote on behalf of his constituents, the latter should know if their candidate wants to favor the socialist state company or if he chooses to benefit non-state forms of production and services; if he prefers to propose relaxations in immigration laws or new restrictions; if he agrees or is against expanding the right to property or whether professionals can practice on their own; that private parties can import for the purpose of marketing; if the freely convertible currency stores should be expanded or eliminated; whether to continue building hotels or to build houses and many other things.

If being black, white or mulatto, man or woman, peasant or intellectual could define the political position of the deputy at these crossroads (which are the ones that matter), the proclaimed diversity of the National Assembly would make sense.

If that diverse condition does not contribute to the way in which you are going to vote on behalf of your constituents, then it is useless.


*Translator’s note: The only ’campaigning’ that is allowed is the posting in a window of a one page ’biography’ of each candidate, with their photo, and this bio is not prepared by the candidate themselves. In one election, independent candidates’ biographies described them as “counterrevolutionaries.” In the final round of elections there is only one candidate for each position; voters can vote yes or no, or deface the ballot or turn it in blank.

Translated by Translating Cuba

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