Sunday 3 February 2013

Cuba’s “election”: a fiesta of propaganda

Not a lot of choice

Looking frail, Cuba’s president Fidel Castro showed up to vote in the island nation’s parliamentary “election” on Sunday, participating in a farcical system in which there were 612 candidates for 612 seats. Castro, 86, chatted briefly with the public during a photo-op.

Parliamentary terms are for five years. According to law, each candidate must receive 50% of the vote, or else they will be recalled and a new candidate chosen.

But, uh, this has never happened.

Referring to the election as a “celebration of democracy” (fiesta de la democracia), one of Cuba’s officially sanctioned news outlets Cuba Now (Cuba Ahora) said that there were 29, 957 polling stations across the country. The election included provincial delegates, as well as those to local assemblies.

It was rainy on Sunday, but according to Cuba Ahora the streets had a festive air, “with the coming and going women, men, and young pioneers – all proud to guard the voting urns”.

It was odd that the news service felt it necessary to quote an 85-year-old man saying "I came here by choice, nobody pressured me,” before giving a detailed account of how bad things were before the revolution.

In Juventud Rebelde, the “Newspaper of Cuban Youth”, which has an English edition, the journalist Agnerys Rodríguez Gavilán – who, oddly enough, has a grey beard – noted rather ominously that “voters who won’t be able to vote at their colleges should tell the authorities of their colleges in advance”.

According to Juventud Rebelde, 400,000 people worked on the election. That’s a hefty number, given that the entire a population of Cuba is just over 11 million. 

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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