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2015 Partial Elections: an Old Woman Wearing Rouge / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya
Posted on January 25, 2015

Billboard for the 2008 parliamentary elections.
“Cuba in elections: without masters, without impositions”

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 19 January 2015 – Next spring, Cuba
will hold the first election process after the announcement of the
restoration of relations with the imperialist enemy. Everything
indicates that the authorities of the Island are ready to stand the test
of what the democratic makeup should look like to create an impression
of positive change. For this reason, they are rushing to create their
own mechanisms for “approval” with the democratic systems in the region.

If the US President wants to see democratic change in Cuba, the regime’s
double-dealers are working on it. After all, the old adage has already
stated it: “It is not enough to be Caesar’s wife; it is a must, in
addition, to appear so.” Though we Cubans are aware that the innovations
brought about by the hand of the same government that curtailed civil
liberties are only imitations of those dilapidated and unkempt old
buildings in order to prolong their existence, and that, in the popular
jargon we refer to as “an old woman wearing rouge.”

Last January 5th, the official Cuban press published a call of the State
Council to the midterm elections, “as established in the Constitution of
the Republic and Law #72 of October 29, 1992? in which delegates to the
municipal assemblies of the People’s Power will be “chosen” for a
“mandate” of two and a half years, subject to revocation.

The next day, the 17 members of the National Electoral Commission took
up their positions and received appropriate accreditation. They must
“organize, manage and validate the electoral acts”.

Granma newspaper reported the start of a “political and strengthening
process on the 55th Anniversary of the [Committees for the Defense
of the Revolution]”, at the municipal level, as part of which
“assemblies at the popular board level” were held on January 8th, and on
the 12th, they were held “at all zones of the CDR’s.” Such assembly
process sought to “improve the functioning of the leadership structures
of the CDR” from the grassroots level –on each city-block up to the
municipal and zone-specific committees, and at the same time the
“conditions of individuals who occupy charges at different levels of
management” were evaluated. According to the national CDR coordinator,
Carlos Rafael Miranda Martínez, this process ensured, among other
objectives, “to help support the election process and the incorporation
of young people.”

The first round of the process will take place on April 19th, 2015, the
second round, “at those constituencies where none of the candidates have
obtained more than 50% of the valid votes cast,” on the 26th.

The current Electoral Law in Cuba states that any citizen can be
nominated as a candidate for delegate by a show of hands in the
assemblies of each constituency, and subject to popular vote at the
polls to exercise that capacity. Election campaigns and political
parties are expressly forbidden, so it’s not a requirement that
delegates and deputies belong to the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), but
the PCC really runs the election process, plus governs the country de
facto. Therefore, all levels of government of the popular power are
subordinate to the PCC. In fact, party militancy is often a relevant
qualification when proposing a candidate for delegate.

In the succinct proposal process, selection of the candidates and voting
for the delegates of the electoral districts, all “democratic
possibilities” are exhausted. Cubans are deprived of their legal
capacity to choose, not just a President to rule the country for a
reasonable defined period, but they won’t be able to opt directly for
governor of their municipal district, city, or the province where they
reside.

The “delegate” thus embodies the living exponent of the beginning and
the end of the (popular) citizen power in Cuba. In this way, from the
actual implementation of the first revolutionary electoral system,
established in 1976, Cubans have strictly voted for a district
representative – barely a portion of a neighborhood – whose function is
mainly centered on receiving complaints from his constituents and
passing down to them the decisions or guidelines emanating from the
Municipal Assembly. That’s where the functions and powers of electors
and elected at the grassroots level cease.

A few days after the decree for partial elections in April 2015,
seminars have begun to be taught in the capital to those called “trios”
– composed of three individuals, members of the Communist Party, subject
to the municipal committee of the PCC – who are responsible for driving
and controlling the grassroots electoral process.

At these seminars, the trios are being instructed in the new guidelines
that will begin to be applied to Cuban elections, whose main component
is the addition of two new figures: the observer and the supervisor.
This information has not been published in the official media. Also not
published to the seminar attendees is what organizations will be in
charge of watching and supervising the elections in order to validate
their transparency.

At this point we could only speculate that the Cuban government
requested the presence of observers from allied organisms as the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) or the
Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), since Cuba is
not a member of the Organization of American States, an institution that
has its own mechanisms for such effects. This will allow the Cuban
government to evade the direct supervision of those entities more
discerning in matters of democracy.

Another detail of these elections will possibly be banning the use of
the Little Pioneers (i.e. children) as agitators, who are often sent by
the presidents of the polling station to citizens’ homes to get them out
to the polls, a practice guided by the directorate of the municipalities
of the PCC to each electoral table, which has been in effect since the
establishment of the system.

“In these elections, voters will not be able to be pressured to go to
the polls so that election stations may close early,” an instructor of a
seminar directed a large group of trios at the Centro-Habana
municipality. He also made implicit reference to the coercion that has
been exerted on the electorate – who sometimes vote as to “not stand
out,” so their own will not be harmed, or with lesser knowledgeable
sectors who might believe that voting is a mandatory exercise – when he
stated that a voter may show up when he decides to do so, and that they
should not be pressured into being forced to come out and vote. If 10
show up, then it will end up being 10. Whatever. Nobody is required to
vote.”

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: 2015 Partial Elections: an Old Woman Wearing Rouge / 14ymedio,
Miriam Celaya | Translating Cuba –
http://translatingcuba.com/2015-partial-elections-an-old-woman-wearing-rouge-14ymedio-miriam-celaya/

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