Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

General Elections in Cuba Sunday March 11th

Elio Delgado Legon

Voting in Cuba. Photo: telesurtv.net

HAVANA TIMES – On Sunday, March 11, the second stage of the general elections will be held in Cuba, which, as every five years, calls citizens to vote to elect all the deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power (parliament), as well as well as the delegates to the Provincial and Municipal Assemblies. The latter are renewed every two and a half years.

In the first stage held at the end of last year the delegates to the Municipal Assemblies were elected and the national legislators and delegates to the Provincial Assemblies take place in this second stage.  I feel the need to explain this because the Cuban political system has been the subject of many erroneous interpretations, sometimes due to ignorance, but in most cases with the intention of discrediting our socialist government.

The enemies of the Revolution do not stop shouting that in Cuba there is no democracy, that the Cuban government is a dictatorship, that human rights are not respected. In short, everything that can create a bad image of the country’s institutions. They use the argument that citizens do not vote directly for the president and vice-presidents and that there are not several political parties competing to win the elections.

In the first place, Cuba is not the only country in the world where the elections to elect the main leaders are indirect. A wide representation of all the people is chosen to integrate the parliament, which this year is comprised of 605 deputies. Once constituted the National Assembly, its members choose among themselves by direct and secret vote its president, vice-president and secretary, and for the members of the State Council, which in turn at its first meeting, held immediately, elects the country’s president, the first vice president, the other vice presidents and the secretary of the Council of State.

As can be seen in what has been explained so far, the will of an individual does not prevail, but that of all the representatives of the people. And it is not like that because of the will of a person, but because that is what the Constitution dictates, which was approved by 98 percent of the voters.

There are no political parties because this was determined by the people when approving the Constitution, therefore, the candidates are not nominated by any party, but by the people themselves in neighborhood meetings, taking into account the moral and ethical qualifications of the candidates and the possibilities that they have to serve the interests of the people who nominate and elect them. This is in the local elections of the delegates to the municipal Assembly.

Photo: juventudrebelde.cu

The nominations for provincial delegates and deputies to the National Assembly, come out of candidacy commissions in which all the mass organizations, which constitute civil society, are represented, presided over by a representative of the workers’ organization (the Cuban Workers Federation, CTC).

In these candidacies, it is a requirement that at least 50 percent of the candidates must have been elected delegates to the municipal Assembly, the rest are selected taking into account that all sectors of society are represented.

Comparing our political system with that which exists in many countries, where the leaders are often elected by less than 25 percent of the voters and only have limited contact with the people to ask for a vote and then forget the promises they made, ours is, by far, more democratic than the others.

Therefore, the accusations of a lack of democracy, of dictatorship and all the others that constantly appear in the reactionary media, have a single objective: to discredit our political system because it is not submissive to the dictates of imperialism and only responds to the dictates of his own people.

11 thoughts on “General Elections in Cuba Sunday March 11th

  • The author states, “it is a requirement that at least 50 percent of the candidates must have been elected delegates to the municipal Assembly…” This is incorrect. It should read “up to 50 percent of the candidates must have been elected delegates to the municipal Assembly.” This means that the percentage will always be lower than 50 percent, and it drops after the midterm elections for municipal delegates every 2 and one half years, at which time some of these delegates/deputies are not reelected.

    • But Brother Roman, Elio is a Cuban. He is educating us about the Electoral Process which takes place in his country! What qualifies you to refute his presentation? Do you have facts to present that his information is incorrect? It would appear that the Election Process in in Cuba is people oriented; in the USA you elect someone from a Particular party with less than 25% approval and, once the person is elected, you do not see them again until his/her term is up and he/she seeks re-election: No communication with their constituents whatsoever for the four years that he/she is representing them. And did you see who guard the Ballot Boxes? Little School Children! Not no police, not no army personel with weapons of mass destruction. Little school children! This has to be a better system than where the corporations contribute to the campaign funds of the candidate? Now, if the corporations contribute all that money to the candidate, when he or she wins the elections, would that candidate work in the interest of the ordinary man and woman voter or would they work in the interest of the corporations who poured ton loads of cash into their campaign? He who pays the piper, calls the tune

      • Mr K.E.C Sir,
        You are very right about pipers and tune calling.
        There is the ever-topical example of the wonderful, freedom-loving NRA.
        They pay the wedge to the politicians’ campaigns.
        The politicians refuse to call for gun control.
        Therefore there is a spiralling proliferation of lethal weapons.
        This national arms race ensures more and more mass shootings.
        Each time there is a mass shooting the gun manufacturers’ share price goes up.
        Their donations to the NRA go up accordingly.
        And the NRA has more of a ‘politician bribing fund’………..

        And this is called democracy?

        Well OK. It’s a form of democracy. But it ain’t so clean as to be assuming some moral high ground and constantly accusing other nations of being undemocratic.

        Cuba certainly has it’s issues regarding democracy, but at the very least it does not have the described type of corrupt and blood soaked vicious circle to worry about………

  • In summation the Cuban people get to vote for the candidates that are chosen for them and then it’s called “democratic.” The author, who’s probably a party hack, never addresses how this is supposedly democratic despite the lack of independent political parties, a free press in which to disseminate various ideas, and the right of the people to assembly. As Kennedy Earle Clarke pointed out there are children standing beside ballots boxes in pictures that were specifically chosen to illustrate this article. But it’s a reasonable assumption that if people tried campaigning for their own political party outside of the system described in this article that they’d be mistreated by the Cuban police or an artificial mob created by the CDR. There are no Hyde Parks in Havana. I’ll believe there’s democracy in Cuba when security police stop harrassing Las Damas del Blanco.

    • Mr Jarrell,
      I always find it a bit far fetched to believe in a simple case of ‘have and have-not’ when it comes to democracy. The reality is more of a sliding scale.
      In some countries the result of an election is traditionally based around who controls the majority of the media.
      These days there is a growing prevalence of voter targeting inhighly advanced countries by means of analysing their internet browsing profile.
      I doubt that there is an example of perfect democracy. Cuba has a democratic process. From an objective point of view it’s probably fair to say that it is a less democratic process than that of many other countries.
      But show me where has a perfect democratic process.
      By the way. I’ve spent a good deal of time in Cuba. Everyone in Cuba knows that the Damas de Blanco are funded by the U.S taxpayer. That’s why they are not so well respected by Cubans as some external sources like to make out.

      • Nick,

        From an objective point of view the Cuban system is hardly democratic despite the government managed plebiscites you and the author of this article laud. Like I said there are no independent political parties, private assemblies, or a free press for anything resembling an actual democracy.

        While it is true that no major political system is ever purely democratic and that Western nations have a problem with disproportionate influence based on money it doesn’t refute anything I’ve said about Cuba. It’s only a redherring to what I’ve said about the faux democracy in Cuba.

        As for Las Damas del Blanco I don’t care if they never win a popularity contest in Cuba. Let them fail in a market place of opinions and relegate them to the corner of a Havana Hyde Park. But when they get roughed up by Cuban government goons that is an entirely different narrative. Being roughed up by government goons isn’t democracy, that’s dictatorship! But you seem to be OK with that which proves my contention that when Cuba apologists are pressed they will justify the very oppression that Cuba is criticized for. By justifying the Cuban government you have hardly refuted me.

        In answer to you question about where there has been a perfect democratic process: whenever a family or a group of friends take vote on such pressing questions as what’s for dinner or what video will they watch.

        • Mr Jarrell
          My statement regarding Cuba’s elections/democracy was: ‘From an objective point of view it’s probably fair to say that it is a less democratic process than that of many other countries’.
          I don’t really see how you interpret that to be lauding, apologising or justifying ??
          And I am most certainly not ‘OK’ with the famous Damas Blancas being ‘roughed up’.
          I don’t think any ‘roughing up’ is OK at all; any more than I think that the USA paying people to demonstrate in sovereign nations is OK.
          I don’t support government forces ‘roughing up’ anyone whether it is in Barcelona, on Wall St, at Orgreave or in Havana.

          My actual point is that democracy is perhaps not really a case of ‘you either got it or you ain’t’.
          That’s not the way the world works except perhaps in some sort of ‘good vs evil’ Hollywood style movie.
          I think there are other comments here which broadly agree with that point
          (eg:Ola, Colin).

          • Nick,
            Please accept my apology for jumping to a conclusion and for misattributing a viewpoint to you that you do not hold.

            While I take your point that democracy isn’t something that is either all or nothing. It’s that I don’t think there is any in Cuba. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. Despite the limited elections Cuba remains a police state whose heads of state are only accountable to themselves. That is hardly what I’d call workable definition of democracy.

            As for Las Damas del Blanco. I don’t know if they’re on an American payroll. I won’t deny that there are interests in Washington and Miami eager to meddle in Cuba. At the same the Cuban government consistently smears dissidents and nonconformists as mercenaries bought and sold by US imperialism. During the infamous anti-homosexual purge of the 1960s Cuban homosexuals were accused of being in league with US imperialism. So pardon me if I think Cuban government accusations about Las Damas or any other dissident should be taken with a grain of salt. My point about the Las Damas is that their treatment by Cuban security police is an example of political repression that isn’t conducive to actual democracy.

    • I think it’s important to recognize that democracy isn’t the same in every country. In Sweden (where I live, for instance) you primarly vote for a party. It’s the party members who set the lists in a process that’s primarly internal, and the party’s only organize some 1 % of the population. After the election the king (who’s born into office) askes the biggest party or party block if they are interested in forming government. The party who accepts the task than poposes a candidate for “state minister” (Swedish version of prime minister) for the parliament . By the “negative majority principle” wich guides the forming of government in my country, the least disliked party or group forms government, not the parlamentary majority. Since the intruduction of parlamentary democracy in 1921, a party wich holds the support of the majority has only been in power once or twice. Our sytem is not perfect, nor is it 100% democratic, but it’s our system and has to be evaluated and mesuerd byu it’s own merits. The same I think goes for the Cuban electoral system – it’s a system with it’s own complexity, limitations, strengths and merits, that has to be evaluated byu the cubans themselves, and I’m greatful for the author who tries to explain it.

  • Quite! A”free press” generally means a press owned by capitalists. Does the US or UK have television stations run by,say, trade unions? I think not! Only the rich have a say.

    Socialist democracy, emanating from the people in their local area, is vastly superior to the western sham version.

  • Mr Jarrell,
    Thank you for your comment.
    I would say that there is a form of democracy in Cuba which has it’s limitations.
    It is not multi party democracy so I would certainly take the point that some would view that as no democracy at all. We perhaps have differing points of view on that.
    Regarding anti gay discrimination I would agree with you.
    There was what you describe as a purge in the 1960s and there was also the disgraceful ’rounding up’ of HIV positive Cubans in the 1980s.
    I believe Fidel himself admitted that these were serious errors of judgement.
    Cuba has actually reformed a great deal in that specific regard and lgbt rights are currently much mere widely recognised than previously.
    Regarding Las Damas Blancas, I agree with people’s right to protest. That’s a tricky issue in Cuba. It is one of many countries in the world where freedom of speech is limited (certainly not the worst example). But when a group is clearly motivated to some extent by the funds they receive from an external power who is determined to undermine a sovereign nation………..?
    As I say, a tricky issue.


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