Cubans voted Sunday in local elections featuring two opposition candidates who could become the island’s first non-Communist elected officials in decades. Political dissidents Hildebrando Chaviano, a 65-year old lawyer and independent journalist, and Yuniel Lopez, a 26-year old computer scientist, have already made history by surviving the first round of balloting and making it to the final vote. Chaviano and Lopez would be the first officials elected from outside the Communist Party since Cuba’s electoral law was put in place under former president Fidel Castro in 1976. They are the only two non-Communist candidates among 30,000 people running for local office in Sunday’s elections.
In their official electoral biographies displayed publicly in Cuba, Chaviano and Lopez are described as “counter-revolutionaries,” and there has been no mention of them or their parties in state-controlled media.
Election victory for the two opposition figures would be seen as a sign that the all-powerful Communist Party is loosening its grip somewhat, as it aims to normalize ties with the United States.