Important Questions About the “Transfer of Power” in Cuba

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14ymedio biggerA quick guide to understanding the process that begins with the opening of the National Assembly of People’s Power this Wednesday.

  1. What is the body of Power whose leaders are going to change?

The Council of State, which exercises legislative power during periods when the National Assembly of People’s Power is not in session. This Thursday the names of the president, first vice president, five vice presidents, secretary and other members will be announced. The president of this entity is, at the same time, head of government and head of state.

  1. Will there also be changes in the other organs of the Power?

The first step of the process begins this Wednesday in the new National Assembly with the swearing in of the 605 deputies elected on March 11. Next, the deputies will meet to select the new president of the Parliament (Esteban Lazo Hernández currently occupies this position), the vice president and the secretary.

  1. Who proposes the candidates that will appear on the ballot to be voted on by the members of the Council of State?

The National Candidacy Commission (CCN) draws up the list of those who will make up the Council of State. This entity, chaired by Gisela Duarte Vázquez, is composed of representatives of the Cuban Workers Confederation, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the National Association of Small Farmers, the University Student Federation, the Secondary School Students Federation, and the Federation of Cuban Women. The statutes of all these organizations reflect their loyalty to the Communist Party, the Revolution and the historical generation.

  1. How does the National Candidacy Commission make that selection?

The CCN selects from the 605 deputies that make up the National Assembly a list of 31 parliamentarians to be part of the State Council. Previously, 47.4% of the assembly members are chosen from among delegates at the district level, and the rest are named from among personalities in culture, sports and other sectors.

  1. Will there be more than one candidate for each position in the Council of State?

No, there will be a single candidate for each of these positions: president, first vice president and five vice presidents, in addition a secretary. All must be members of Parliament and parliamentarians must ratify their candidacy.

  1. Are the other 23 members of the Council of State also appointed from unique candidacies?

Yes, the other 23 members of the Council of State also appear in the candidacy list drawn up by the Commission, to be “ratified” by the parliamentarians. Although the president of the National Assembly of People’s Power informs the deputies that they have the right to modify totally or partially the proposed candidacy, it has never happened that they veto any candidacy.

  1. Is the vote secret?

The parliamentarians ratify the candidacy first by show of hands and then vote secretly for the proposals. The National Electoral Commission counts the votes and its president announces the result of the vote and declare who has been elected president, vice-presidents and secretary, which would be those who have obtained more than 50% of the valid votes cast. If one of the candidates did not obtain the required number of votes, a new proposal is presented by the CCN (something that has never happened).

  1. Does the Parliament choose the Council of Ministers?

No, the Council of Ministers is appointed by the Council of State.

  1. What will happen to Raúl Castro once he leaves office as president?

He could remain within the Council of State as vice president or as a simple member, otherwise he would be a “simple deputy.” He will continue as the First Secretary of the Communist Party, an organization that the Constitution of the Republic consecrates as the “leading force” of society. He will remain in that position until the end of his term in 2021.

  1. Can it happen that the positions of president of the Council of State and that of president of the Council of Ministers do not fall to the same person?

It is possible, but such a decision would be a novelty of “collegial mandate” in a centralized model such as Cuba has had in the last half century and that of the countries of the extinct socialist camp.

  1. What about the composition of the Council of State should we pay special attention to?

The numerical relationship between “hard-line” and “reformist.” In the absence of a clear and public policy agenda for each of them, age or belonging to the historic generation are not the only criteria, but it is likely that they some of the “historicals,” such as José Ramón Machado Ventura, Ramiro Valdés and Guillermo García, will be retired.


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