Again Elections in Cuba?
Again Elections in Cuba?
Again Elections in Cuba?
To some in the world it must have sounded a little strange to notice that the State Council of the Republic of Cuba will hold elections on Sunday, April 25, for the 169 delegates to municipal assemblies of People's Power. That is perfectly understandable, since one of the main components of the media war against the Cuban Revolution has been denied, juggled or muted, the holding of democratic elections: the partial half every two years to elect representatives (councilors), and the general, five, to elect national parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies.
Cuba enters its thirteenth electoral process since 1976 with the enthusiastic and responsible participation of all citizens over 16 years of age. In this opportunity there are partial elections.
With the misrepresentation, misinformation and the exclusion of the elections in Cuba on the news agenda of each, the owners of the mainstream media have sought to strengthen its sinister message that the leaders in Cuba, at different levels, are not elected by the people. Although in recent years fortunately, especially after the advent of the Web, media controls have been crumbling rapidly. Therefore, the truth about the reality of Cuba, in elections and other events and issues, has been making inroads .
They do not give information on the elections in Cuba, nor to its work on health, education, social security and other issues, due to the fact that the powerful capital of the world fear the spread of their example. Now, the fiction of democracy and freedom which has been sold to the world for centuries is laid completely bare.
We appreciate, however, that the relentless passing of time is adverse to those who serve to safeguard the walls of silence. Although, unfortunately, there are still some political commentators out there defending the corporate elite, politicians, or foreign interests that are adverse to the people and who still claim that "under the dictatorship of Castro in Cuba there is no freedom, democracy or elections." It is a slogan that is repeated frequently to honor the thought of a Nazi ideologue that a lie repeated a thousand times could become a truth.
In light of the elections scheduled for April 25, I will only tell in this article, with the greatest possible brevity, there are four features of the electoral process in Cuba, still capable of improvement, that make substantial differences to the existing mechanisms for elections in so-called "representative democracies." These aspects are: 1) Electoral Registration, 2) Delegate Assemblies for Candidate Nomination 3) Electoral Propaganda and 4) The voting and counting.
Electoral registration is automatic, universal, free and public. At birth, a Cuban not only has the right to free education and health, but when reaching 16 years of age will automatically be entered into the Electoral Register. For reasons of sex, religion, race or political philosophy no one is excluded. Not even if that person belongs to the bodies of defense and security of the homeland. No one is charged a penny for appearing to register, much less be subjected to stifling bureaucratic procedures or to require photos, stamps, stamping or fingerprinting. The Register is public, is exposed in places where there is a massive influx of people in each constituency ..
Since the beginning of the electoral process, this totally public mechanism enables every citizen with legal capacity to exercise their right to elect or be elected. And it prevents the possibility of fraud, which is very common in countries that call themselves democratic. The basis of fraud everywhere is first that the vast majority of voters did not know who is entitled to vote. That only known by a few or dominant political machines. And, therefore, there are dead who vote multiple times, or, as happens in America, many citizens are not included in the records because they once were sentenced by the courts, despite having served their sentences.
What most distinguishes and differentiates Cuba from other elections are the assemblies to nominate candidates. In other countries, the very essence of their democracy is that candidates of the parties arise from competition between various parties and candidates. That is not true in Cuba. Candidates do not come from any political machine. The Communist Party of Cuba, the leading force of society and state, is not an organization for election purposes. It does not even present, elect or revoke any of the thousands of men and women in representative positions of the Cuban State. Its purpose has never been and will never be to win seats in the National Assembly or the Provincial or Municipal Assemblies of People's Power. In each of the proceedings initiated to date, many Party members were nominated and elected, only because their fellow citizens found them people with merit and ability, but not because of their militancy.
Cubans have the privilege to nominate their candidates on the basis of merit and ability, in assemblies of residents in neighborhoods, districts or areas in the cities or countryside. The vote in these assemblies are done with an arm in the air, from there it is proposed that the one with the most votes gets elected. In each constituency, there are now several areas of nomination, and the Electoral Act ensures that at least two candidates, and up to 8, may be those which appear on the ballot for the election of delegates of the 25th April.
Another feature of the electoral process in Cuba is the absence of expensive and noisy propaganda, and the commercialisation that is present in other countries, where there is a race to raise money to privilege one or another public relations firm. None in Cuba can campaign on behalf of the candidates and, of course, no need to be rich or have funds or financial assistance to publicize. In the squares and streets there are no actions on behalf of any candidate or car speakers or demonstrations or posters with their photos, or electioneering promises on radio and television, either, nor in print. The only propaganda is implemented by the electoral authorities and it consists of exposure in public places in the same area of residence of the electors of the biography and photo of each candidate. No candidate is favored over another. The biographies present merits achieved in social life, so that voters may have access to elements on personal, reputation and ability to serve the people of each of the candidates and cast their vote freely for who they consider the best.
The final feature we want to comment on is the vote and public scrutiny. In Cuba voting is not compulsory . As stated in Article 3 of the Electoral Act, it is free, equal and secret, and each voter has one vote. No one, therefore, has anything to fear if they do not go to their polling place on Election Day or if they choose to deliver their ballot blank or annulled. This is unlike in many countries where voting is compulsory and people are compelled to vote to avoid being fined, taken to court or even to keep a job.
While in other countries, including the U.S., the essence is that most do not vote, in Cuba it is guaranteed that anyone wishing to do so could do it. In elections held in Cuba from 1976 to date, on average, 97% of voters have gone to vote. In the last three, more than 8 million registered voters did so.
The counting of votes in Cuban elections is public and can be witnessed in every school by all citizens who so desire, even the national or foreign press. And, moreover, they are only elected if they reach more than 50 percent of the valid votes cast, and they are accountable to their constituents and may be revoked at any time during their mandate.
I aspire simply to set these features, a reader without information about the Cuban reality should answer some basic questions such as the following: where is there greater electoral transparency and more freedom and democracy? And where has there been more successful elections: in countries with many broken politicians, or many political parties, many candidates, much propaganda or is it that Cuba is silenced or manipulated by the mainstream media, monopolized by a handful of corporations and limited magnates?
And I also aspire that someday, at least in the mainstream media, the wall of silence will cease to be erected on the elections in Cuba, as in other areas like public health, work and education, and this can be a source of knowledge to other people who deserve more respect and a future of greater freedom and democracy.
Translated from the Portuguese version by: