Cuban Residents Abroad Stripped of their Voter Rights

May 19, 2017 | Print Print |

Cubans abroad are seeking changes to the Cuban electoral law that allow them to participate in the electoral process.

By Pedro Campos

Nostalgia. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — An announcement in Thursday’s edition of Granma newspaper about the preparations for the upcoming elections states that “according to that stipulated in the 1992 Electoral Law No. 72, all Cuban citizens who are 16 years old and over and are living in the country on a permanent basis for at least the last two years before an election, have the right to vote.”

This implies discriminatory treatment of those Cubans who live abroad, when it comes to everything related to the current election process, as well as the many other violations to their rights and contradictions they suffer.

It doesn’t matter that they have valid passports, which they pay for and have to update every two years paying large sums of money, or that they contribute to the national economy with almost 5 billion USD annually in cash by sending remittances and another, approximately, 5 billion USD in medicines, food items, clothing, household appliances and other products.

We’re talking about the right of more than two million Cubans to participate in their country’s government being violated, a right which is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Cuba has signed.

In Article 21 of this Universal Declaration, it states: 

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

All three clauses are being violated by the electoral law in force in Cuba.

Therefore, we are dealing with a flagrant, systematic and huge violation of a human right, which is recognized by international law. The government-party-state tries to go above this international law but is only succeeding in setting itself apart, believing that it can violate the law free of consequences.

While it is true that a large part of these Cubans have taken on other nationalities, the Cuban constitution doesn’t allow dual nationalities, thereby contradicting what is written in the Constitution. It is also an unconstitutional law that forces all citizens born in Cuba to keep their Cuban nationality, but then the government stops them from practicing their rights as such.

En algún momento este grupo gobernante, tendrá que rendir cuentas ante el pueblo de Cuba por tantas violaciones a sus derechos.

Admittedly, there are many laws and acts by the Castro government which violate the Cuban people’s civil and political rights which are recognized internationally and quite a few of them even violate their own Constitution in force, with all of the problems and violations of international law.

However, I am tackling this subject from an angle so as to raise awareness about the action of the group “We are all Cuban, we all vote” which presented an electoral law amendment proposal at the National Assembly of the People’s Power’s offices in Havana in October 2016. The proposed legislation would allow Cubans living abroad to participate in the electoral process and to choose Cubans living abroad as People’s Power representatives and legislators.

Up until today, 7 months later, the group hasn’t received any kind of response from the Cuban authorities, and so they have put in a request before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to recognize this right and to take action, if they are unable to see this right recognized in Cuban legislation.

This isn’t odd behavior. Leaving out and ignoring what they believe doesn’t suit them, rejecting any kind of dialogue with the utmost intolerance has always been the Castros’ government’s response to any proposal that doesn’t come from their own centralized leadership. This is characteristic of a dictatorship.

At some point, this ruling group will have to render account for the countless violations against the Cuban people’s rights. We can always forgive them; but the longer they take to realize and recognize their extremely grave mistakes, the harder it will be for us to forget.


What's your opinion?

  • Sky

    If you have the PRE, which gives you all the rights a Cuban living in Cuba has, it is a disgrace that you cannot vote in Cuba. As the author points out, it costs (£400) to have a 6-year passport and pay for two extra validity stamps in the UK. Truly the Cuban government understands human resources in the fullest sense of the word. But is is surprising? No. Obviously Cubans living outside Cuba are not likely to vote for the regime are they? But how many choices are Cuban voters actually given? On the menu isn’t it a choice of rice. Or rice?

  • N.J. Marti

    Silly to not let all citizens vote when the outcome is already controlled. That less than 100% of those living outside Cuba would support the Regime’s candidate would hardly be a surprise. The broader voting would give it more credibility.