Reports from Cuba: ‘Elections’ in Cuba: False representation and tons of propaganda

Lucia Alfonso Mirabal writes from Havana via Diario de Cuba:

‘Elections’ in Cuba: False Representation and Tons of Propaganda

The fact that the list of candidates includes people from all the provinces and municipalities does not mean that all the territories are actually represented in the Cuban Parliament.

The regime claims, to present Cuba’s “elections” as democratic, that on the list of candidates for delegates to the National Assembly of Popular Power (ANPP), all the country’s territories are represented. The fact that there are nominees from all the provinces and municipalities does not mean, however, that all the territories are really represented in the Cuban Parliament. An analysis of the 470 candidates for the 470 seats proves this.

When was the last time Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, who has lived in Havana for years, visited the municipality of Gibara, in the province of Holguin, where he is a candidate for the National Assembly of Popular Power (AMPP)?

This is just one example of AMPP candidates nominated for provinces in which they do not live (they all reside in the capital) but are supposed to represent in the assembly when they are (as we know they will be) elected.

Similar cases include those of Raúl Castro Ruz, a candidate for the municipality of Segundo Frente Oriental, as he has resided in Havana since 1959; Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, the current deputy first minister of the Republic of Cuba, who is a candidate for Artemisa; José Ramón Machado Ventura, from Vueltas, Villa Clara, who serves as commander of the Army and is a candidate for Guantánamo; Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez,  the current president of the Republic of Cuba and first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), who is a candidate for Santa Clara though he has not resided there for more than two decades; Lázaro Alberto Álvarez Casas, the current Minister of the Interior, is an ANPP candidate representing Unión de Reyes; Teresa María Amarelle Boué, the current Secretary General of the FMC, is a candidate for Puerto Padre, without actually residing there; and Oscar Manuel Silvera Martínez, the current Minister of Justice and former Vice-president of the Supreme Court, is a candidate for Bayamo, a city he left more than two decades ago.

These are just some of the names that are repeated again and again in the ANPP.

Beyond the fact that the Cuban Electoral Law does not require candidates to reside in the provinces for which they are “nominated,” is it really plausible that those who do live in those territories have never wanted to propose a different fellow citizen to represent them?

Before answering that question, it should be recalled that Cubans living in those provinces did not put these candidates forward. Rather, this was done by the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC: Cuban Workers Union), the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Federation of University Students (FEU), the Federation of Secondary School Students (FEEM), the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) and the municipal assemblies of popular power according to the figure corresponding to them, always with the mediation of the criterion of a National Candidacy Commission, which is located far from the base.

As the official press admitted last January, the CCN prepares the proposals of candidates for deputies to the ANPP. This body is a filter to almost ensure that Cubans will vote, if they choose to do so, for the candidates pre-selected by it.

The Cuban regime’s propaganda is fond of repeating that its “elections” are transparent and democratic because the Party (the Party, because only is legal in Cuba) does not actually nominate candidates. And that is true, because it does not need to do so… not directly, that is.

The fact is that all the organizations nominating candidates are subordinate to the Government, and their leaders belong to the CCP. The regime then points to them as proof of the representativeness of Cuban society and its elections, when membership in these organizations is not optional, but automatic and practically mandatory, in specific cases.

Another sign that this supposed territorial representativeness is fallacious is what happens when a seat in the Assembly is left vacant due to the death or termination in office of the deputy who occupied it. Faced with this situation, “the Council of State, if it deems it necessary, urges the delegates to the corresponding Municipal Assembly of Popular Power, constituted in the Electoral College, to elect another deputy to fill the position. If it makes such a decision, it informs the National Electoral Council, which, in turn, informs the National Candidatures Commission,” in accordance with Article 232 of the Electoral Law.

Said article evidences that these vacancies are filled according to the interests of those in power. In fact, the ANPP faces this electoral process with more than 50 vacant positions, about which it has not given any explanations to Cubans.

Thanks to the same rule, a person (chosen by those in power) without ever residing in the municipality/province in question, or having ties to its interests, and without the direct approval of the electorate of a territory through any route of early democratic consultation, can still be proposed as a candidate and elected as a delegate and deputy of the Municipal Assembly with a vacancy.

Article 233 states that “the nominating commissions participate in the preparation of the draft candidature, which is approved by the National Nominating Commission and submitted to the delegates by the Municipal Nominating Commission. Article 234, meanwhile, states that “to fill a vacancy for a deputy who has acceded to the position in his capacity as a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power, the Candidacy Commission guarantees that the pre-candidate selected shall also be one.”

The election is held on the date indicated by the Council of State and the review is carried out by the Municipal Electoral Council. The candidate, alone and not competing with other citizens, is declared elected if he obtains more than 50% of the votes.

We can recall, for example, the case of the rise of the late FAR general and GAESA Czar  Luis Alberto López Calleja, who was born on January 19, 1960 in the municipality of Santa Clara, a city distant from the municipality of Remedios in both miles (69) and in its particularities and customs, though both belong to the same province. His distance from Remedios and its residents grew after he graduated from college and moved to Havana, a city where he began to live as an active Party member and to execute “tasks” assigned him by the Revolution. López Calleja, nevertheless, entered Parliament as a representative of Remedios.

We should not rule out journalist Humberto López accessing the same position via the same route after the end of the present electoral process. Many of those pre-selected hope to enter through this back door, a mechanism that legalizes the inconsistent electoral system in force.

The regime also claims that in Cuba’s “elections” there is no political propaganda, but what is really lacking are any candidates who present to the voters solutions to solve their economic and social problems, or different models for the country.
The candidates do not present Cubans with different alternatives because the Government has no intention of solving the people’s problems. Rather, its aim is to keep them subordinate so that the regime may endure.

Considering that the number of candidates coincides with that of seats in the ANPP, it does not matter if some do not receive all the votes, or even if they do not receive any, to become candidates. But, precisely because they are its candidates, the regime cannot tolerate rejection of even one of them.

This is why before each vote there is a media campaign to convince Cubans to vote for all their candidates. The leaders, in their tours of the provinces whose inhabitants they are to represent, speak of the problems of the territories, but invariably mention the importance of a “united vote.” In fact, during his visit to the community of Antón Díaz, in Santa Clara, Miguel Díaz-Canel praised that voters spoke of the need for such a vote.