To Vote or Not to Vote

To Vote or Not to Vote / Yoani Sanchez

Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sanchez

MEETING – Candidate Nomination… In the basement in front of the

superintendent's apartment. We expect you to attend ON TIME.

Cuba's municipal elections for delegates to the People's Power are now

getting underway again. The official media repeatedly tells us that

"this is the best democracy in the world," and it's time to nominate

from among our "most capable." The streets are filled with billboards

referring to the topic and in every neighborhood voter lists are

published. The atmosphere would be similar to that of any other country

during the period of nominating local representatives, if not for one

crucial details. There is no expectation that this process influences

any national decisions. No possibility it will produce any change.

The electoral machinery is strictly controlled. The inhabitants of each

area vote for a biography and a photo but have not right to ask the

potential district delegate what he or she thinks about specific

problems. That is, we put a ballot in a box but without knowing whether

the candidate is for or against increasing self-employment, prefers to

keep or eliminate and restrictions, much less if they

would like to end or lengthen Obligatory Military Service. The Electoral

Act itself declares that there can be no political campaigns and this

leaves the population with just some resumes and portraits from which we

must pick one.

Thus, it gives rise to situations as absurd as marking the ballot next

to a certain name because it has the face of a good person, or because

they graduated as an engineer and this indicates they're hardworking.

People choose someone who has three children because being a father or

mother must guarantee honesty, of they pick a representative for the

simple fact of having run into him or her — now or then — at the market.

The final result is that the neighborhood delegates who some day reach a

seat in the National Assembly vote unanimously for all the laws

presented to them. And never, never, do they dare to propose any change.

18 September 2012

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