By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES — This coming February 3, Cuba will hold one of its every-five-year parliamentary elections. It’s a process that goes almost unnoticed and there are reasons why.

Cuban officials often wonder out loud why their parliamentary elections are barely mentioned in the foreign press. I want to share some of the reasons why the process to elect provincial and national legislators draws so little interest on the island and virtually none abroad.

The top reason for the lackluster balloting is that no issues are discussed by the candidates, who are not allowed to campaign.

The candidates are only permitted to post resumes/synopses of their adult life. Voters are asked to cast their ballot for them because they were selected by nomination committees as the most qualified to support the central government’s policies and programs.

Merits, virtues, dignity. Image: escambray.cu
Merits, virtues, dignity. Image: escambray.cu

Voters have no idea if the candidate has any priorities or new strategies for dealing with the problems and concerns of the citizenry, whether they approve of all government policies 100 percent or if they have any criticisms.

Here’s the punch line: For 612 seats in the National Assembly of People’s Power there are 612 preselected candidates.  For the different Provincial Assemblies of People Power there are a total of 1,269 candidates for 1,269 seats.

Then the National Assembly members will elect a Council of State including the president of the country and several vice presidents.

Voting itself is very easy. Registration is automatic for all citizens 16 or over and over 90 percent of the population routinely vote, which is voluntary, but many believe that those who don’t participate could face future reprisals.

Supporters of the Cuban electoral process often cite the abhorrent million-billion dollar US campaigns as the justification for going to the other extreme and not allowing any campaigning or fundraising in Cuba.

Billboard: Vote for our ideas and our values. photo: radioangulo.cu
Billboard: Vote for our ideas and our values. photo: radioangulo.cu

The concept of a paid politician is absent in Cuba and even the national parliament representatives derive no financial compensation for their civic work, which usually involves two brief three or four day sessions a year.

Since virtually all decisions are made as executive orders by the Council of Ministers, the parliament is relegated to rubber stamping decisions already made and sometimes already implemented.

Virtually all votes are unanimous and any debates among the members are held behind closed doors. Even an abstention is highly rare. This is to say 612 deputies routinely agree with every executive order passed by the Council of Ministers.

Seen as a strength by most of the Party leadership, this type of unity doesn’t wash with a growing segment of the Cuban population, especially its youth, who in turn are apathetic to the process – even if they vote so as to not attract attention.

 


13 thoughts on “Why Cuba’s Elections Draw Little Interest

  • To you, they may be “slogans,” but these well documented claims represent the overwhelming consensus of expert opinion. Yeah, I know, you don’t believe in “experts,” but not even your CIA dares to publicly question them for fear of exposing themselves to the international ridicule. You should learn from them, Griffy.

  • You can sneer at my sources all you want, because you cannot refute the facts in them.

    You proclaim the authority of the BBC as all the proof you need, yet the Beeb can print sloppy reporting as often as the next source. I refute the report because it misses well known information and reads like a topical Cuban gov’t propaganda piece, right down to the trite slogans and cliches.

    It doesn’t hurt at all.

  • My source is the BBC. (Just one of thousands of others on Google along the same line.) Kind of trumps your handful of exile mafia propaganda sites doesn’t it? Not even the CIA is buying into your BS these days. That’s gotta hurt!

  • Your source failed to mention the Cuban program for quarantining those tested positive for HIV was not voluntary. In the first years of the program, all were forcibly quarantined, even if they showed no signs of AIDS. It was only several years later that the patients were given the option of leaving these hospitals.

    The method was harshly criticized from a human rights perspective, even though it did contain the disease. Given that glaring omission, the rest of her report is suspect as well.

  • The elections are clean, as you point out, and voters have the option of rejecting every candidate on the ballot in national elections and calling for an entirely new slate of candidates — real power US voters can only dream of.

    By law, the Communist Party can play no roll in the electoral process. It can neither nominate, finance nor endorse any candidate. The entire nomination process takes place at the grass-roots level. In a very real sense, the Cuban electoral system can be seen as a “no-money, no-party” system.

    And sadly, for you, not even the CIA seems to have bought into your lies and disinformation about Cuban health stats. They know they would instantly lose all credibility if they did. The bias of your source is revealed by equating free access to abortion, something that is a fundamental right of women in Canada and Europe, with being “anti-life.”

    Readers should also know, for example, that Cuba’s record on bringing babies of HIV-infected mothers to full term is exemplary. They are not automatically aborted as your “sources” seem to suggest. On the contrary, all the necessary resources are devoted to safeguarding the life of the fetus. See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/sci_tech/2003/denver_2003/2770631.stm

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