http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/update-on-cuban-elections-in-cuba/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Update on Cuban Elections in Cuba

Posted October 22, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


A frame grab from Cuba’s state television shows Cuba’s acting President Raul Castro casting his vote at a polling station in Havana October 21, 2007.

by Isabel Sanchez | AFP

Cubans voted Sunday in the first round of balloting that ultimately could indicate whether Fidel Castro will formally remain communist Cuba’s leader, or perhaps opt for a permanent power handover.

Some 38,000 voting precincts opened at 1100 GMT and closed at 2200 GMT, with more than 8.3 million Cubans over the age of 16 eligible to vote for some 15,000 council seats in the Americas’ only one-party communist state.

The election process is to culminate by early 2008 with a new national assembly and selection of 31 members of Cuba’s Council of State. The council has been led by Fidel Castro since the 1960s.

But Castro, 81, continues to be sidelined from power since he underwent gastrointestinal surgery in July 2006.

Raul Castro, 76, is serving as interim president of Cuba, while his elder brother recovers, and still formally leads the Council of State.

The elections are expected to clarify eventually whether the status quo of the interim government led by Raul Castro will be left in place permanently, or if Fidel formally will stay at the council’s helm, leading this island of slightly more than 11 million people.

Although last year Cuban officials insisted that Fidel would return to work as prior to his illness, they long since have stopped making such predictions.

Local television reported that the ailing leader cast his ballot at midday at the secret location where he is recovering.

Castro reportedly cast his ballot in presence of an electoral official, but out of the view of television cameras—the latest non-appearance by the ailing leader, who formerly was almost daily in the public eye.

Many Cubans expect that Fidel Castro will be sidelined definitively, while continuing to write his editorials, and that Raul Castro eventually will wade into some cautious economic reforms.

While initial fears that the Cuban government would collapse in Fidel’s absence have subsided, the government headed by Raul Castro faces a plethora of problems from rock-bottom salaries to crippling shortages in the transportation and housing sectors and an ever-rising cost of living.

On the eve of balloting Saturday, Castro hailed the country’s electoral process as superior to that of its northern neighbor the United States, which also is in the throes of a protracted election campaign.

“Our elections are the antithesis of those held in United States ... There, first you have to be very rich, or have an enormous amount of money behind you,” said Castro in an editorial in the official daily Granma.

In the United States “to be elected president, you need hundreds of millions (of dollars), which come straight out of the coffers of the big monopolies.

“A candidate can win who actually got a minority of the popular vote,” Castro marveled, in a jab at US President George W. Bush who, thanks to the unusual US electoral college system, won the presidency in 2000 even though Al Gore won the popular vote.

“There is fraud, trickery, ethnic discrimination and even violence,” Castro said of the US electoral system, in his latest missive in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper.

Although Cuba considers its elections democratic, the United States and many western nations see the Cuban electoral process as bereft of real choice.

Balloting in Cuba is taking place as Bush prepared to unveil “new initiatives” next week to help Cubans push for democracy, according to a White House announcement on Friday.

In response, Fidel Castro issued a statement read out on television as voting began Sunday criticizing Bush for refusing to lift decades-old US sanctions on Cuba, which he called “genocidal.”

“Bush is obsessed with Cuba,” said Fidel Castro, adding that Cuban “sovereignty is non-negotiable.”

Member Comments

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 23, 2007, anders wrote:

Isabel Sanches article is a good example of how come people believe they are well informed when they actually are not.

she seems completely unaware the elections of october 21 are local, municipal elections. she comments on them as they were National Assembly elections. These present elections have nothing what so ever to do with choosing Council of State and Chief of State and all that jazz.

Aside of the picture, that in it self was worthy of a comment, practicly nothing concerned the proclaimed dealings.  Uuuh, lausy !

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

In a functional democracy, the government operates with the consent of the governed.  The governed have the ability to change the government, including the executive branch.  Prior to Fidel, Cuba used to have a variety of political parties, including the Orthodoxos and the Authenticos, all with varying platforms to choose from.  Needless to say, only the PCC is currently permitted to function.  Fidel and Raul have never run for elected office; they have no mandate.  When he took over in 1959, Fidel promised free elections within a year.  Still waiting.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, anders wrote:

cubanpete,
you´re right in many things. Did you know Fidel was a member of the National Board of Partido Ortodoxo when he organized the 26-july movement ? And that his main strategy towards Partido Travallero - the communist party of those days - was to make them not interfere with the revolution. He got that agreement in wrighting. Those documents are a blast to read.

With the exception of the Ortodoxos and PT, the heirs of José Martis legacy the rest of the parties were financed by big brother. Just as minute groups with very long names still are on Cuba.

Both Fidel and Raul are elected members of the NA. Fidel from Oriente outside Holquin somewhere I believe. Raul I don´t remember where. But they are not elected municipal politicians as most NAmembers are.

They have had elections every 2,5 years since 1976.  Whats your definition of a free election I wonder ? Not the system of Florida I hope !

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, publisher wrote:

Cubanpete,

It’s a trap. Anders knows way too much about Cuba yet doesn’t have much common sense. He thinks the Cuban system is very fair because Fidel has told him so.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, anders wrote:

Publisher,

Alas, I´m glad you saw the trap since I haven´t found it. And still I wrote the lines ! Would you be so kind and enlighten us all !

Or are you just advertising US educational standards. I´ve noticed your incumbent Chief of Staff wants to privatize all schools on Cuba. You went to one of those didn´t you ? Do you agree the standard of education in the US is as high as in Scandinavia ?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, publisher wrote:

No idea what the standards are in your country.

My point is that you act like such an expert on Cuba and treat Fidel and the Cuban government like it is flawless with free elections, no political prisoners and how everyone enjoys their high standards of living because of the free rent, food, transportation, baseball games etc.

How many times have you been to Cuba? Either not many or any or you live there and work for Fidel.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, anders wrote:

Publisher,

you´re not an honest person ! Or simply just as silly as those so called diplomats your idiotic country keeps sending around the world claiming to be problem solvers. Has the thought ever occured to you real cubans with influence on trade relations valid even after the end of the embargo might be reading what you do here ? Wasn´t your idea to be a part of those days to come ?  Maybe it is time you start acting as someone people would want to do business with.

Either you´re dumb as a train or just as aware as anyone who actually is involved in international relations with Cuba this Osvaldo Payas you use as a shield - his family name actually meens clown in my language - is just another scheme. Your reactions certainly suggest you are a fasad. Everyone knows CANF is paying his way ! They started as long ago as 1992 if I´m not mistaken.

You ask me things we have discussed several times already or I have myself mentioned. Your insinuations are as insolent as your knowledge has proven limited. You have neither tried to reach me through my e-mail, nor through the Archbishops Office or the Episcopate of Stockholm as I earlier have encouraged.

My favourite beach is a very small bay north of Baracoa where scandinavians often go when we tour the island. It is a part of the local CTC:s summer camps. I think USA:ans could also go there at least if your acompanied by a local. Do you have any spot like that or have you only delivered householdequipment ?

Your rethorical attempt to pin me to a set up of opinions on Cuba may work towards people that went to the same school as you. It does not work on me. For Pete´s sake, choose at least topics I have discussed !

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, publisher wrote:

Not really sure who “real cubans with influence on trade relations valid even after the end of the embargo” are. Are you talking about Pedro Alvarez? If he is reading the Havana Journal, I doubt that he will find much material that he would consider offensive. It’s is rational businesspeople like him that are good for Cuba.

Oswaldo Paya does not take money from CANF. That statement right there convinces me more that you are working for the Cuban government in some capacity. If you are not getting paid by them then at least you have “drunk the koolaid” and believe everything you read in Granma.

Either that or you are benefiting personally in some way by having Cuba locked down in an antiquated communist state.

Instead of questioning me, you should be questioning your boss Fidel.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, anders wrote:

Publisher,

you probably have no idea how american/USA:an you are ! A litteral archtype no less.
As far as I know the people of Alimport are very pragmatic. It is there job to be succesful. If you really have any knowledge of what they are doing some of your comments are even more remarkable.

Osvaldo Paya has been formaly connected to the over all CANF operations since june -97 through their efforts to set up “independent” political parties capable of aligning with european right wing parties. The idea is to create groups that seemingly are independent of CANF. This includes a christian democratic, a liberal and a so called social democratic “party”.
Since 1998 this is coordinated through “GTDC” - Working Group of Cuban Dissidents set up by Ruth “Chuny” Montaner. They set up Felix Varela Law Centre at the same time in Miami.
Vladimiro Roca, a close associate in Todos Unidos participated in that meeting together with Martha Beatrice Roque and a couple of others. They have the same financiers namely USAID and NED.  So sorry !

There is no way you can disconnect Todos Unidos from them or from “Plataformo Democratico Cubana” run by Carlos Alberto Montaner who runs their joint efforts in Europe from Madrid.

What have I to gain from all of this. Absolutely nothing ! But I definitely support the Cuban efforts to become a nation among others in the world community. Normalisation is my game and there are some things about their society I actually like. The nations that are benefitting the most from trading with Cuba today are those that treat them as equals. This requires a halt to all forms of demonizing !

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 24, 2007, publisher wrote:

Paya is not associated with Beatriz Roque and the others or Miami and that’s why I support him.

For a Swede who apparently only visits Cuba occasionally, you certainly know a lot about Cuba!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, anders wrote:

Rob,

as you for ones did not write anything insulting I will call you by first name instead of title.

Paya does everything he can to keep an official distans to Beatrice Roque, Felix Bonné, Diaz and the rest of the historical band. As there are bundles of photografs, news paper articles and US book keeping summaries that show the opposite the contacts and relations can not be denied. We can discuss the intensity, however.

How seriously would you expect cubans to take someone ( Todos Unidos ) that demands the right to own property in a country where everyone owns their homes, who excercises their constitutional right to demonstrate to claim the right to protest, who launches right of freedom of worship from churches that in practice are communaly subsidiced, who demands the right to start a family business in a country with more than 250 000 family companies aside of the farms and that print “oppositional flyers” on machines distrubuted by the local authorities.
Paya has a somewhat more noticeable impact on ordinary cubans than the bands around Beatrice Roque. That is, people don´t hate him. They think of him as sweet, yet dumb.

The intentions of setting up Paya et conc are primarily directed towards stupid europeans in order to bewilder them and weaken opposition towards the autrocities of US policy on Cuba. This in an era where our media ( with few exeptions ) have replaced research with advertisments and are licking the wounds of the collapsed Soviet empire. It worked for 15 years but is becoming increasingly difficult.

Yes, my knowledge of Cuba is above average but I´m also aware of my shortcomings. This could be a reason why scandinavians so frequently are made use of in international politics.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, publisher wrote:

This is Cuba?

“How seriously would you expect cubans to take someone ( Todos Unidos ) that demands the right to own property in a country where everyone owns their homes, who excercises their constitutional right to demonstrate to claim the right to protest, who launches right of freedom of worship from churches that in practice are communaly subsidiced, who demands the right to start a family business in a country with more than 250 000 family companies…”

Cubans owns their own homes? Have constitutional rights? freedom to worship? I think you need to learn a bit more about the real Cuba and not the Cuba you read about in Granma and Fidel’s Reflections.

Don/Vlasta/Anders,

Please. This is just silly now.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, anders wrote:

Publisher,

Those lines from my previous comment that you qouted above are correct down to the last letter.
I challenge you to contradict them with something better than deviations and Harry Potter stories. You cannot , that is why you chicken out through the Don/Vlasta window !

Have you forgotten I´m a man of the church ? What would be the ultimate experiences of the freedom of worship that I might have, do you think ?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

Sweden?  Sweden has socialism.  It also has opposition political parties able to criticize the government and run opposing candidates for public office.  It has a free press able to criticize the government.  It has small, privately-owned shops.  And so on and so on.  Also, Swedes can leave Sweden without an exit visa.  Cuba has none of this.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, anders wrote:

cubanpete,

fair enough, Sweden has all of that as do our sibling countries. The historical reason why we have a multi party system in The Nordic countries is because the labor movement a 100 years ago wanted to overthrow the ruling capitalist system and establish a true democracy for and by the people.

It proved to be a complicated journey. The large numbers of parties we have reflect that complexity and the multitude of social change that has occured. The advanced character of our political and social system is the protocoll of this struggle. We were very close to a socialist revolution after the first world war but the conservative rulers yielded so we could undertake a reformist approch instead.. None of that happened in Cuba.

The deciding factor in such revolutionary times is how the priveliged rulers behave. And the relative strenght of the peoples movements of course. Our rulers were fairly patriotic and trusted common sense amongst the working people. The prevelidged rulers of Cuba never did that.
We had two, say two insidents where soldiers fired at people. The reformers of Partido Popular and Partido Travallero had to face that constantly including a manipulative and violent foreign power. We had nothing of that.

We can still cooperate reasonably but everyone and everything connected with the old times on Cuba have completly and totally wasted their confidence in the eyes of most cubans.
The present activities of the US, CANF and their associates only preserves this stalemate. They are demanding the cubans to yield what they have gained. That is completly opposite to the yielding that took place in my country.
The Cuban revolution took place pretty much because the prevelidge people deserted their country and people, took their cash and left the country.
Reconciliation can only take place if the exiles and the US accepts “facts on the ground” and work with Cuba as equals. On their terms.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, publisher wrote:

You mean on Fidel’s terms.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 25, 2007, anders wrote:

you can´t be serious ! Do you even read the articles you published ? Just resently you published an article where Alarcon said it is uncertain Fidel would even run for parliament in March next year.

Which I´m happy to say I predicted several weeks ago. One prediction made on this blog may actually come true. 1-0 for me !

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 26, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

Cubans should have the same right to free elections, multiple political parties, independent labour unions, and a free press able to criticize the government that Swedes now enjoy.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 27, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

I continually am reading about needed changes to Cuba in the news, blogs and of course The Havana Journal. A theme that repeats itself is the ambiguous terms of democracy and free elections. We all must remind ourselves that not only is communism finished and not capable of functioning in its purest form. Democracy in its purest form does not exist because of the strong lobbying groups, self interest groups, greed, corruption and other outside influences.

Democracy in the United States is limping along and hijacked by the select few, it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, you must come to terms with this problem. The basic freedoms that Americans have exist because they were established in a period of time when democracy was in its purest form. I am not saying this to insult Americans but they must come to terms that the concept of be like me is not the best solution.

Cuba has a unique opportunity to take democracy to its purest form, utilize their existing network of social services, continue the vote for strong local representation with the addition of multi party choices.

The people of Cuba have a very good chance to make a new type of government which can be the envy of the world. I say this because they have a highly educated society, a strong sense of pride, and have experienced the worst of communism and democracy.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On October 28, 2007, anders wrote:

cubanpete,

absolutely - those things are virtous all of them. At least most of the time. Much to often they become empty phrases used as rethorical weapons by right wing interests to destroy whatever people are doing to actually establish popular rule.

As a christian theologian I´m somewhat aware of how grand words about heaven have been used to create hell.

Are you saying cuban press does not criticise policies, politicians or the governing system ?

Being raised in the swedish labor movement myself I have experienced the political strength of unions, movements, parties asf in close cooperation. The leftist reformist block here recieves more votes then the percentage of citisens that participate in elections at all in the US.  That is, if Sweden was transfered to the US every bloody voter would vote for socialists, communists environmentalists or farmers party plus increasing voters participation with 10-15 %. This is much because of the strong affiliations in between movements and parties.  Not always a good thing but most of the time its been a blessing.

When you mention “independent labor unions” what do YOU mean ?