[Marxism] Cuban Polls May Lead To New President (Frank, FT)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 21 08:33:47 MDT 2007


An informative report which provides helpful context to seeing the
importance of this weekend's Cuban electoral process. It came just
before it was reported that Bush would announce further new measures 
against Cuba on Saturday, though none were actually announced..

Washington tries to divert most public attention from the internal
electoral processes here in Cuba, but they really do exist and they
really elect delegates. It's hard to make interpretations from the
results because the candidates don't run on any specific political
platform. They run on their personal qualifications, not any specific
policy proposals.

Are incumbent office holders every voted out? I understand told that
office-holders can be recalled at any time in their term if there 
are enough signatures on a recall petition.

While Marc Frank reports that the internal opposition groups, which
he describes as "tiny illegal but tolerated", are calling for a
boycott, and the MIAMI HERALD is publicizing that, my guess is this
won't have a significant impact because voting here is encouraged in
a very strong way, though it's not mandatory. It's an act of civic
participation and patriotism. It also indicates acceptance of the
political system. As I understand it, the only way one can register a
recorded protest through the ballot box is by spoiling the ballot or
casting a blank ballot. This always happens, to a small degree. There
have been detailed election analyses by a a former Cuban political
analyst who now lives in Miami by the name of Domingo Amuchastegui
who visits the island from time to time has written about it.

As far as whether or not Fidel Castro will run for office again, in
the National Assembly, nor speak of his other positions such as being
First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) or of the army,
there is no information now, and no announcement has been made. I
have no information, and this lack of information, with details like
his actual diagnosis, is something which Fidel and the Cuban
leadership is handling quite deliberately. Those who base all of
their hopes, fears, calculations or whatever are kept as much in
the dark as they can be. They keep looking pretty ridiculous having
those big celebrations in Miami every time they get the notion that
the Commander-in-Chief is finally dead. Fidel, annoyingly, refuses to
die until the final moment. And he must be laughing all the time at
their perennial disappointment.


Walter Lippmann
Havana, Cuba

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Cuban Polls May Lead To New President (Frank, FT) 
Friday, October 19, 2007
Financial Times
By Marc Frank

Cubans go to the polls on Sunday as the western hemisphere's only
one-party state begins an electoral cycle that may well result in a
new president for the first time since Fidel Castro was named to the
post in 1976.

Cuba's tiny illegal but tolerated opposition groups are boycotting
the process, calling it a fraud because citizens have a direct choice
only at the neighborhood level and the government controls the media.

There are no presidential candidates or political campaigns, no
public discussion over who might take over from Mr Castro, and
turnout is traditionally more than 95 per cent.

Elections are about character, not politics, according to the
Communist party, which insists it is banned from organized
participation, though members can run and take most seats at all
levels of government.

"I'll vote for whoever is running. All are good and will have the
same possibility and problems accomplishing anything," said
university student Rebeca Durrsy, shopping at a produce market within
sight of Revolution Palace, headquarters of both the Communist party
and the Council of State.

Another shopper, 40-year old Roberto, did not give his full name.

"I don't care who wins "¦ I'll vote anyway to avoid being seen as a
problem where I live," he said.

President Castro, 81, "temporarily" ceded power to his brother Raúl,
five years his junior, in July 2006 to undergo the first of at least
three major abdominal surgeries for an undisclosed illness.

Fidel appeared alert, but frail and in no shape to govern in a
17-minute video released last weekend from whereabouts unknown.

Analysts say he may not be healthy enough to seek re-election next
year, although any political uncertainty around the presidential vote
will be stripped out of the process through layers of representation
before then.

"It seems the perfect moment, and only moment for five more years,
for the party to make the changes in the government nature has forced
upon it. The question is will they, and if so what happens to Fidel?
Will Raúl or someone else replace him? And who now becomes first vice
president?" a European diplomat said.

But few analysts believe a change at the top will result in a
political opening. Despite official encouragement of discussion of
the country's economic problems at tens of thousands of grass roots
meetings across the country in recent months, the debate did not
spill over into September's ward delegate nomination meetings which
were dull early evening affairs where residents nominated their
candidates with a show of hands.

"Since Raúl Castro has opened the door to dialogue about Cuba's
economic problems, many Cubans have increased hopes for change but
remain unable to register their true feelings at the ballot box,"
says Daniel Erickson, who heads up Caribbean affairs at the
Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue group.

"Still, the ward elections will set in motion a process to reshuffle
Cuba's communist leadership at a moment when Fidel Castro's illness
has generated huge doubts about the country's future - which makes
them a significant political event despite their democratic deficit,"
he said.





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