Enough with the Charades, Cuba Deserves Free Elections / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones

people with L fingers cuba

In order to “elect” there must be different political parties to choose from, and only one is legal on the Island: The Communist Party

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 17 April 2015 – Coming up on April 19 there will be “elections.” Many countrymen ask about the changes that the Electoral Law will introduce.

The most democratic electoral law in the world?

In Cuba there are no elections, just votes. There are no elections because in order to elect there must be different platforms, and here only one is legal. Absolutely all the delegates and deputies respond to this; that’s why it does not matter for whom you vote.

Every time one of the People’s Party (which is the “people’s” in name only) elections approaches, the official media overwhelm us citing the supposed blessings of our electoral law, according to them the most democratic in the world.

It is an illusion. The only supposedly democratic thing in our electoral system is the election of candidates as district delegates. It’s true that the residents of each of the zones into which the district is divided elect a candidate through a direct and public vote, but that is the visible tip of the iceberg. The hidden part is comprised of the multiple meetings of “the community revolutionary elements” – i.e., Party members, “combatants” (former soldiers), leaders of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the Cuban Women’s Federation (FMC), etc – where those attending are directed how to block any candidacy unwanted by the regime and who to vote for.

The people that staff the polling stations are subordinate to the government. They count the votes and give the results to the stakeholders who are present at each polling station, but there exists no access by the people to the vote count in the Municipal Electoral Commission, which receives the results from each polling station in the district and reports who was elected.

The delegate as well as his voters lack any real power to make decisions and transform his neighborhood, and it is for that reason that the former has turned into a mere complaint clerk.

Finally, 50% of the delegates to the Provincial Assemblies from the People’s Power and the same percentage of the deputies that make up the National Assembly are not elected by the people but “handpicked” by the official Candidates Commission. In these assemblies there will never be a decent, hard-working and patriotic Cuban who disagrees with Communist ideology. So what is the democracy of this law?

A Cuba “with all and for the good of all”

The Constitution of 1976 in its preamble declares that it is the will of the government that the law of laws be presided over by the profoundly Martí desire to make the first law of our Republic be the worship by Cubans of the full dignity of man.

Article 1 states: “Cuba is a socialist state of workers, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a united and democratic republic for the enjoyment of political liberty, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.”

The drafters of the socialist magna carta deemed that such desire was fulfilled. But reality, more stubborn than any triumphalist sentence, proves that the Cuban state is not organized “with all and for the good of all,” as José Martí dreamed, but for the “Revolutionaries.” The other citizens are excluded, jailed and discriminated against. Reality demonstrates that a single political party supplanted the State and controls everything, prohibiting the existence of any other organization of that kind.

In such conditions there is neither democracy nor political liberty. There is no social justice because in order to access certain jobs and higher education, loyalty to the Communist Party and the Revolution is demanded and because increasingly the State abandons the elderly, the disabled and low income people.

There is no individual well-being because workers receive miserable wages and have to buy basic products in a currency other than that in which they are not paid and that is worth 25 times more. There is no collective well-being because public services degrade further every day, and health and education are in a precarious state. There is no human solidarity because there is physical assault and intolerance in the face of diversity, as was demonstrated once again at the recent Summit of the Americas. Of what full dignity of man do the Communists speak?

What many Cubans do want

What many Cubans do want is to enjoy the same civil and political rights that the citizens of 34 other countries in the continent have.

They want to decentralize the State’s absolute power and to build democracy from the neighborhood up because sovereignty lies with the people, and they have to have the means to express it. For that reason it is spurious for a leader who has not been elected by ordinary people to make a decision or to believe that he expresses the interests of an entire people without consulting the opinion of the citizens.

Cubans want to elect people who really represent them at the different levels of government and are not merely uncritically consenting.

They want all the delegates to the provincial assemblies of the People’s Power and the deputies to the National Assembly of the People’s Power to be elected in their districts through direct and secret vote, publicly verified, and that the same occur with those who lead those government organs and other important offices like prosecutors, tribunals and police units.

They want to choose the political program that most satisfies them and to elect their president in multi-party elections supervised by international agencies.

That is the desire of the majority of Cubans, and as long as it is not fulfilled, the Communists should have the decency not to talk about elections or democracy.

About the Author

jesus-quinones-haces.thumbnail (1)Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces was born in the city of Cienfuegos September 20, 1957. He is a law graduate. In 1999 he was unjustly and illegally sentenced to eight years incarceration and since then has been prohibited from practicing as a lawyer. He has published poetry collections “The Flight of the Deer” (1995, Editorial Oriente), “Written from Jail” (2001, Ediciones Vitral), “The Folds of Dawn,” (2008, Editorial Oriente), and “The Water of Life” (2008, Editorial El Mar y La Montana). He received the Vitral Grand Prize in Poetry in 2001 with his book “Written from Jail” as well as Mention and Special Recognition from the Nosside International Juried Competition in Poetry in 2006 and 2008, respectively. His poems appear in the 1994 UNEAC Anthology, in the 2006 Nosside Competition Anthology and in the selection of ten-line stanzas “This Jail of Pure Air” published by Waldo Gonzalez in 2009.

Translated by MLK

“Many Voters Will Not Vote for Me” / Cubanet, Orlando Freire Santana

Hildebrando Chaviano (photo by the author)

Hildebrando Chaviano (photo by the author)

“Some do not know me well, some are prisoners of fear.” Interview with opposition member Hildebrando Chaviano, candidate for delegate to the People’s Power.

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Orlando Freire Santana, Havana, 15 April 2015 – Independent journalist Hildebrando Chaviano is one of the opposition candidates nominated by districts in the capital with a view towards the midterm elections to be held this coming April 19. In order to learn of the most recent events surrounding his nomination, we visited him in his apartment on the 28th floor of the Focsa building in the El Vedado neighborhood.

Q: Have you noticed any change recently in your neighbors’ treatment of you?

A: “I can tell you yes, indeed. But a change for the better. Neighbors approach me and greet me cordially. Even those who have never had a close relationship with me, now I notice they are friendlier.

“However, the neighbors from the building are one thing, and another is the workers of the State establishments located here in Focsa. Many of them, due to the extent of their working hours — especially those in the food business – will vote at this polling station on the 19th.   And certainly, I am aware that they have distanced themselves from me. I am convinced that they have been told categorically that they may not vote for me.

“Even recently there occurred a telling event. Some reporters from the German television station Deutsche Welle visited me. When they were leaving we came to the building’s reception area where they wanted to take some pictures of me. The receptionist, very startled, left the place, because according to her own words, ‘Not for anything in the world could I appear in those photographs.’” Continue reading

“The Regime Wants the US to Buy Cuba with the Dictatorship Included” / Cubanet, José Luis León Pérez

Guillermo Fariñas, coordinator of the "Juan Soto García Guilfredo"  United Anti-totalitarian Forum (FANTU), winner of the 2010 European Parliament "Andrei Sakharov" Prize

Guillermo Fariñas, coordinator of the “Juan Soto García Guilfredo” United Anti-totalitarian Forum (FANTU), winner of the 2010 European Parliament “Andrei Sakharov” Prize

“If the Cuban government aspires to be included among the democracies it must accept and respect the opposition.” Interview with Guillermo Farinas.

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Jose Luis Leon Perez, Santa Clara, 7 April 2015 — Before leaving for Panama for the Civil Society Forum, Guillermo Farinas, Coordinator of the United Anti-totalitarian Forum (FANTU), who holds a critical view of the negotiations between Cuba and the United States, agreed to an interview with Cubanet.

What is your opinion about the Seventh Summit of the Americas, about the presidents of Cuba and the United States sitting for the first time at the same table?

Dialog is better than war. Personally, I think that Barack Obama erred by not taking into account Cuban civil society, the internal, non-violent opposition, when he took that step. But we must not concentrate on criticizing Obama, but the Raul Castro regime, his character and that of the top leaders, our true adversaries. Continue reading

Castro Followers Attacked Peaceful Dissidents in Panama / Cubanet

Cumbre-cumbre

The opponents were putting flowers at a bust of Jose Marti. Cuban diplomats took part in the beating. The Castro-ites also interrupted the Civil Society Forum. See the video.

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, 9 April 2015 – A pro-Castro group today attacked Cuban dissidents in the heart of Panama City, where on Friday the Seventh Summit of the Americas will begin — in which Cuba will have a starring role due to the rapprochement with the United States; President Raul Castro as well as representatives of the opposition have been invited.

The dissidents claimed that on leaving a tribute at the bust of the Cuban national hero Jose Marti in Porras Park, located some yards from the Cuban embassy in Panama, they were surprised by the Castro followers.

“We went to the Jose Marti bust to leave a wreath. There were several people there who began to scream obscenities at us and tell us to leave. A moment later several people from the Cuban embassy came out and physically attacked us,” said Leticia Ramos, a member of the Ladies in White. Continue reading

“They Have Taken Everything from Me, Even My Family” / 14ymedio

Arian Gonzalez Perez (personal photo)

Arian Gonzalez Perez (personal photo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 8 April 2015 — “How is it possible that I cannot enter my country?” Arian Gonzalez Perez asks himself time and again. This 26-year old Cuban, originally from Santa Clara, has lived in Barcelona for five years, and for that reason he was recently denied permission to travel to the Island and visit his sick grandmother.

“I feel like an outcast, very depressed,” he explains in a telephone conversation from the Catalan city. In his native country, he devoted himself to chess, but, like all players who remain living outside of Cuba, he was expelled from the ELO list (a chess player’s ranking) two years ago. In order to obtain the title of master of this discipline he will have to search for another national federation to cover him. “They have taken everything from me, even my family. It is very frustrating not to have rights,” he says. Continue reading

The Lying Cuban Press / Cubanet, Victor Manuel Dominguez

Archive photo Cubanet.org. An elderly man selling Granma. Headline: “Raul will speak tomorrow”

Archive photo Cubanet.org. An elderly man selling Granma. Headline: “Raul will speak tomorrow”

Montonous, grey, controlled, censored, demagogic, jingoistic, for more than half a century as spokesperson for phantom successes

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Victor Manuel Dominguez, Havana, 31 March 2015 (Cuba Sindical) – The “Revolutionary” Cuban press, characterized as demagogic, monotonous, manipulative, with a grey design, poor quality paper, without stylistic and conceptual diversity, born of the mortal remains of a free press that was censored and later banned from the inception of the Revolution.

Always under state control, the role of spokesperson of governmental policy and ideology, the lack of objectivity is required, and the omission or disguising of what really is happening in the country. Faced with its pathetic role, several Cubans talked about censorship, rumors and secrecy in the national press.

The Tagline

“Still, we are lucky that we are not sentenced to jail for wiping our backsides with the image of Marx, Mao, Stalin, or the victorious face of a leader of the country on a first page, like the followers of Kim Il Sung used to be in Pyongyang,” Ernesto Penalver said ironically. Continue reading

The Mariel Exodus: State Terrorism / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones

Posters from acts of repudiation during the Mariel Boatlift (1980)

Posters from acts of repudiation during the Mariel Boatlift (1980)

Against the “scum,” acts of repudiation, beatings and humiliations. Against Florida, an invasion of the unemployed

Cubanet.org, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 1 April 2015 – On the first of April 1980 a bus was driven through the entrance to the Peruvian embassy in Havana; its occupants entered and sought political asylum. Unfortunately, the non-commissioned officer of the PNR (National Revolutionary Police), Pedro Ortiz Cabrera, lost his life in the event. The event was followed by others extremely traumatic for many Cubans due to their violence. All would be indelibly recorded in the nation’s collective memory and would reveal the terrorist nature of the Cuban regime.

Fidel Castro demanded that the Peruvian government immediately hand over the people who had forcibly entered the diplomatic headquarters. To have pleased him, long jail sentences and execution by firing squad undoubtedly would have been the sanctions applied. But the government of Peru did not agree, and the Cuban regime adopted a measure that, like the others taken in those days, made it seem to their proxies that the ball had been placed in the opponent’s court.

The Measures Taken by Fidel

Fidel Castro ordered the withdrawal of protection and monitoring from around the diplomatic headquarters, inciting all Cubans who wanted to emigrate to enter it. Very soon, thousands of people from all the cities and towns of the country crammed into the place turning it into a tangible reservoir of the discontent that now was sapping society. Continue reading

The Censors Talk about Censorship / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 30 March 2015 — The Surprised Pupil is a program whose first mistake is the name. With quite mediocre staging, presentation and content, really this television program has nothing surprising to see. But to hear, maybe some viewer or another was hoping that its most recent on-air output would tackle seriously a very thorny topic: censorship.

However, that viewer with high expectations was soon disappointed. Censorship is a problem that affects every Cuban producer today, but The Pupil did not worry about that. It was foreign censorship, that which nations supposedly suffer “under the dominion of big corporations,” that occupied the program.

There was even a segment dedicated to McCarthyism, that period of “repressive delirium” in the United States in which “great artists lived through times of accusations, interrogations, trials and torture,” said the program’s host. Not even hinted at were the anti-intellectual raids undertaken by the Cuban government, those whose spirit was defined by Fidel Castro in his phrase reminiscent of Mussolini: “Within the Revolution everything, outside the Revolution nothing.” Continue reading

“You have to hear every silly thing in this country!” / Cubanet, Orlando Freire Santana

Self-employed watch repairer. “We change every kind of battery” Cuba_archivo

Self-employed watch repairer. “We change every kind of battery” Cuba_archivo

A letter published in the official Granma by one its readers asks the State to limit the prices charged by the self-employed in order to protect “the working people from abusive prices”

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Orlando Freire Santana, Havana, 27 March 2015 – Notwithstanding the image that the Castro regime strives to present about small, private enterprise, in the sense of having expanded this activity as part of the economic transformations that are taking place on the island, the truth is that the non-state sector of the economy faces more than a few obstacles.

High taxes, lack of a wholesale market where supplies and raw materials can be acquired, the lack of recognition by the authorities of the total costs that private businesses incur, as well as the excess of audits of Sworn Personal Income Statements, among others, are some of the daily hurdles that stand in the way of the self-employed.

Last Friday, March 20, the newspaper Granma published two works that contain “recommendations” that could obstruct or kill self-employment. The first of these, “Money Well Paid?” is a report about the payments by state entities to self-employed workers in the Holguin province. Continue reading

An Afternoon for Danilo (El Sexto) / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Danilo’s (El Sexto’s) works displayed on the walls of La Paja Records studio (Luz Escobar)

Danilo’s (El Sexto’s) works displayed on the walls of La Paja Recold studio (Luz Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 29 March 2015 – As part of the campaign to demand freedom for the artist Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto,” several artistic activities took place this Saturday at la Paja Recold, the studio of the band Porno para Ricardo.

On the walls of the place were works by the graffiti artist who has been incarcerated since last December 25. El Sexto was arrested shortly before carrying out a performance that consisted of releasing in a public square two pigs with the names of “Fidel and Raul.” The crime that has been charged against him is contempt.

Several friends from all over the world and human rights organizations have demanded his immediate release. Yesterday’s activities joined those demands for his freedom. Among the most important moments of the afternoon was the performance by Tania Bruguera of The Whisper of Tatlin which opened the studio’s microphones to the fifty attendees of the encounter to ask for – in a minute each – Danilo Maldonado’s liberty. Continue reading

Will the mattress arrive before the baby turns a year old? / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta

Woman with a mattress (Yosmany Mayeta)

Woman with a mattress (Yosmany Mayeta)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Santiago de Cuba, 28 March 2015 — The Gonzalez family baby slept her first weeks in a plastic tub lined with sheets and blankets. She could not use the crib because her parents did not manage to buy the mattress that is assigned by the Santiago de Cuba ration market to expectant mothers.

Shortages of the product and delays in its arrival to those in need create discomfort and situations like that of this baby in homes all over the country but with greater severity in the eastern region.

Outside of some stores intended for that purpose there are long lines of pregnant women and their families to buy the so-called “module basket” that is given at a subsidized price to each mother. The prices in the free market are unaffordable for a good many families. They need at least 50 convertible pesos (CUC) in order to get a mattress in the hard currency market, while the average monthly salary does not exceed 20 CUC. Continue reading

They Donate Blood for Bread with Ham / Cubanet, Pablo Gonzalez

cubanet square logoCubanet, Pablo Gonzalez, Havana, 20 March 2015 – Each state enterprise has to deliver a quantity of blood donations each month in order to comply with the rule established by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). Each clinic has to make one hundred donations per month.

Donor in Cuba, where the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired (photo PG)

Donor in Cuba, where the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired (photo PG)

The pressure that MINSAP and the Committees in Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) put on the clinics makes their workers go out into the streets desperately searching for donors.

Without doing any prior testing they carry out the blood extractions with poor medical instrumentation.

Voluntary blood donation in Cuba, begun in 1962, has grown to reach and exceed the target set by the World Health Organization for one donation for each 20 inhabitants. According to the Granma newspaper, blood donations exceeded what was planned in the last two years.

Donor Yasmany Machado, 27 years of age from Sancti Spiritus in the Fomento Province, commented on this report in Granma on the web page of the daily itself:

“Since 2005 I have been a blood donor more than 20 times for the benefit of others. Now I ask myself the following question: Are donors encouraged by MINSAP and the CDRs? Is it perhaps resolved with a role for the district? Why does MINSAP not worry about the health of the donors?” Continue reading