A few years ago, I asked a friend why he had voted for a candidate he barely knew during the election of delegates to the municipal assemblies. His response at the time was simple and full of wisdom. “I don’t want to get into trouble, it’s not that the ballots are marked,” he warned me slyly. With my face showing how embarrassed I was for him, he immediately declared, “Fine, in the end, voting or not voting, it isn’t going to change anything.” My friend’s comments highlighted two of the most serious limitations of the current mechanisms for electing the people’s representatives. On the one hand, the little confidence that Cuban voters have in the secrecy of the process, and on the other hand, the inability of the candidates elected to influence the direction of the nation. Two of the aspects most mentioned in a forum about the electoral system just held on the digital site of the government newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).
The discussion occurred during the days when a citation was put under my door to participate in the elections for the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power. A piece of gray paper, which most of my neighbors received with the reluctance of a formality that doesn’t influence nor relieve the serious problems they face every day. Many of them will go to vote like automatons, just like during past elections, and with the same lack of faith in the process.
Not even the discreet announcement — of just a few weeks ago — of a new Electoral Law in Cuba, managed to put to rest these suspicions they harbor. A situation made clear in the discussion promoted by the official media, where among the demands most repeated by the readers was the right to a direct and secret ballot to elect the highest offices in the country.
It is true that the questions the People’s Power has heard for decades in their own district assemblies are the fodder of comedians and even critics in the official media, but so far there has been a line no one dares to cross, that of questioning the method by which those occupying the highest positions in the nation are chosen. Discussing something like this immediately places the dissatisfied voter on the side of the enemy, of the opposition, and of the “puppets of the empire.”