The Ballot Box, The Stretcher / Yoani Sanchez

boleta-anuladaTiles on the walls, a screen covered in green fabric and a metal table where they usually place syringes and cotton. This was the cubicle where I voted this morning to elect a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power. Located inside a doctor’s office that was turned into a polling place this Sunday for the residents of the area. “Prescient” I thought of nothing but being alone with my ballot next to the large sink where they wash hospital implements. “Prescient” because my country is in a “coma” of indifference and apathy, and is going to need a profound revival – almost a defibrillation – for citizens to have real decision making power. Thirty-six years since its creation the current electoral system has not convinced us, not even once, that it represents the people against the power, rather we have become accustomed to the exact opposite.

So between the smell of formaldehyde and the hint of a stretcher, I annulled my ballot. After years of abstaining I decided to participate this time in an election that will change absolutely nothing. None of the delegates ratified at the polls could influence even the most pressing issues of our reality. Nor do we know how they think about our huge everyday problems, because the election law only allows them to submit their biography and their photo. So today in my neighborhood we were invited to choose between two faces, between two names, between two resumes… For this reason several neighbors and friends – knowing the futility of filling out a ballot – chose to abstain. But I wanted to satisfy my curiosity, to re-experience the senselessness of a paper that decides nothing, nothing changes, nothing moves forward.

First I wrote the letter “D.” Enormous, like a voiceless scream, I sketched that initial of a long-sought concept: “democracy.” And I did it in the midst of a clinical setting that fit metaphorically with my gesture of annulment, with the urgent intervention that the ranks of the People’s Power demand in this country. A deep surgery, an extensive extirpation of the meekness of the National Assembly, an electroshock of freedom to stop the parliamentarians from unanimously approving and applauding all the time. We will need to resurrect, to be reborn as a society, and to begin to behave like one


22 October 2012