Juan Juan Almeida, 3 August 2017 — The Cuban government is again relying on a proven strategy in an attempt to avoid surprises on October 22 when voters go to the polls to elect delegates to the various local and national legislative bodies, which will in turn be responsible for electing the president of the Council of State.
This curious initiative began with an orientation that had the feel of a series directives handed down by senior officials of the Communist Party, the Central Committee and the national coordinator for the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).
On numerous occasions General Raul Castro has said he intends to step down as president in February 2018. After having been in power for twelve years (ten as president, two as acting president during the illness of his brother Fidel), the eighty-six-year-old is in declining health. Remaining as head of the Communist party until 2021 would seem more like a ploy to guarantee immunity from prosecution than a step towards maximizing his control over the country or influencing the direction of government.
“I just came back from a meeting where they outlined all the things that we must do to raise public morale for the upcoming elections. People have to be happy because on this occasion they will be choosing those who will choose the next president, which seems redundant,” says a provincial CDR coordinator who prefers to remain anonymous.
The CDRs were designed to hold neighborhood meeting during July and August, assuage any doubts about the elections and make sure there are no unexpected proposals from unforseen candidates by paying attention to their constituents’ “revolutionary condition.”
Communist party and government officials are touring the island, meeting with local officials and party members and assigning them tasks in an effort to encourage an effective voter response. According to one source, the battlefield of ideas continues to be the main frontline.
The following are some of the tasks that have been assigned to party cadres and members:
- Review the personal history and attest to the aptitude and ability of every member of the provincial, municipal and district electoral commissions.
- Visit schools and check the documents and election materials that are to be distributed in each neighborhood.
- Review voter registration rolls and verify that the Address Registry has been updated in every CDR.
- Explain to, reason with and convince reliable voters in each community of the need to forcefully deal with problems caused by disturbances of public order or actions by members of counterrevolutionary groups who, with foreign funding, are attempting to disrupt the normal functioning of the electoral process.
- Recruit young people with proven leadership abilities in every neighborhood to create a corps of activists who will spread ideas, encourage action and spur participation by members of the community.
- Coordinate with representatives from public health and transportation, giving special priority to hygiene and sanitation with the goal of preventing the accumulation of trash over prolonged periods of time in underserved locations.
- Insist that delegates have direct contact with the public and that they craft compelling messages that preferably have little to do with political positions.
- Talk to voters in order to objectively and critically evaluate local problems and determine with renewed vigor the political adjustments that need to be made in each area.
- Work closely with more enthusiastic groups and demographic sectors so that they might have influence on those who are apathetic or indifferent.
- Coordinate with representatives from the cultural, transport, housing and supply sectors to optimize conditions for stability and assure widespread citizen participation.
- Guarantee blood donations, which are important and essential.
- Allow citizens to maintain orderly conduct, work together to assure that the elections take place in a peaceful atmosphere and participate in the opening and closing of the polls.
- Monitor compliance with the assigned tasks, the Election Law and directives from the National Electoral Commission.