14ymedio, Havana, 11 October 2019 — “We knew this was going to happen and it happened,” says Juan Moreno, leader of Candidates for Change, speaking about the election on Thursday for the upper echelons of Cuban power. If the results have met the expectations almost millimetrically, nor has the reaction of the opposition been new.
The only voters were the delegates to the National Assembly of People’s Power, and the only choices were to ratify a single candidate for each position.
All members of the State Council are members of the Communist Party of Cuba except José Ángel Fernández Castañeda, a law student and member of the Young Communist Union (UJC). With the departure of the writer Miguel Barnet, the Council of State runs out of artists although it does have the presence of an intellectual, the historian Eduardo Moisés Torres Cuevas.
Dissidents and activists consider the voting a performance piece. “There is no change, it is as they have been announcing in their speeches, this is continuity and continuity in all aspects,” adds Moreno, whose organization promoted the presence of independent delegates in the last elections and promoted observation of the February constitutional referendum.
Cuban economist Mauricio de Miranda Parrondo, resident in Colombia, lamented on Twitter the closed nature of the process. “There is no valid reason why this election has not been enshrined in the Constitution as a universal, direct and secret suffrage,” said the academic, who recently published a series of recommendations to refloat the economy of the Island.
Dagoberto Valdés, director of the Center for Coexistence Studies, in Pinar del Río, told 14ymedio that the process was “the ratification of the continuity of a conservative political model” and he said that he believes that this “reinforces the idea that Cuba needs a change.”
Even more critical is the economist and opposition journalist Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, who considers the process of this October 10 “a great farce” and “a mockery” of Cubans.
“I was struck by the announcement made by Esteban Lazo [President of Parliament] that Zunilda García Garcés, from the Isle of Youth, is joining the National Assembly. This tells you how this Government mocks the people of Cuba. This woman was not even elected, it is not known where she comes from. As some members of the Assembly are missing, because they are people who have been shown the door, then they begin, according to their own internal regulation, to install substitutes that the people did not vote for. Simply, the only ones who vote to put people in these positions are members of the National Assembly, not the people, if the person no longer holds the position,” said Roque Cabello.
René Gómez Manzano, president of the Agramontista Current, does not believe that what happened on Thursday qualifies as an election and believes that it will not imply “any change for the country” at this time.
“As long as there are not several candidates to choose between, they are not elections. What they call elections has the property that there is nothing unexpected, the result is what was already known would occur, the unanimous promotion of the proposals. It is a rehearsed script, prepared in advance, it is already known that the person they propose is the person who will be elected, there are no alternative candidates, there is one candidate for each position to be filled and therefore everyone is elected,” said the opponent.
On the street, apathy characterized a day whose chronicle was already written ahead of time. In social networks, critics wofth the authorities had been illustrating the absence of expectations with humor through memes for days. The almost unanimous figures in the parliamentary ballot boxes confirmed what was expected.
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