14ymedio, Havana, 17 September 2022 — Cuban emigrants will not be able to participate in the referendum on the new Family Code, despite the fact that the Government has disguised this exclusion by stating that it has 1,000 polling stations and 124 constituencies abroad.
In the official TV program Mesa Redonda [Roundtable] airing this Thursday, the president of the National Electoral Council, Alina Balseiro Gutiérrez, explained that there is a structure to vote outside Cuba, where members of “diplomatic and state missions” can exercise their rights, but she avoided mentioning whether Cuban exiles could go to the Cuban consulates.
The president of the Special Electoral Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gustavo Machín, was also ambiguous in speaking to the Prensa Latina agency about preparations for the “embassies and missions abroad.” According to Machín, diplomats will not be the only ones able to participate, all those who fulfill “official” assignments, such as doctors, teachers and others will also be able to vote.
Like Balseiro, Machín ignored a chance to speak about the possibility of exiles going to the polls, although he did have time to point out that there are 640 polling stations in Venezuela alone, which, according to the figures offered by Balseiro, represents more than half of the 1,000 available in the rest of the world.
The Island’s consulates and embassies have spread official propaganda about the new Family Code, but they don’t offer practical information on whether Cubans living abroad can vote.
Characterized again and again by the Government as “a broad, democratic and contributory process,” the referendum repeats the electoral strategy of 2019, when emigrants were also prevented from deciding whether or not to accept the new Constitution of the Republic.
That year, several Cuban diplomatic delegations circulated the same message: only members of the missions could vote in the embassies; Cubans who resided abroad and wanted to contribute their vote should present themselves “directly” to their electoral district on the Island.
The impossibility of exercising an inalienable right over Cuban law has led to the creation of several electoral initiatives outside the country that, although they aren’t binding, will constitute, according to their promoters, a first step in the right to vote.
With this purpose, the organizations DemoAmlat and Transparencia Electoral have organized an electronic voting platform. The objective, according to the official website of DemoAmlat, is to be “an exercise in citizen participation” that allows exiles to express an opinion.
The vote is scheduled for September 25, between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., at the same time as the Cuban referendum. Likewise, with the voter registration, they propose to establish “a register of Cubans residing abroad.”
This final record of voters in exile has led to controversy between those who allege the usefulness of the inventory and those who believe that it could become an instrument for espionage by State Security.
Cuban activist Félix Llerena was one of those who defended DemoAmlat’s initiative on Twitter, characterizing it as “a first step in organizing ourselves as a diaspora.” However, other users have described the registry as “something very dangerous,” because it’s a compilation of names whose vote the Government will not consider valid, but which will be useful for the profiling of opponents in exile.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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