The (Un)popular Power of Castroism

Díaz-Canel goes along under pressure, from platform to platform, taking advantage of anything, even if it’s a defeat in baseball with a score of 14 to 2. (PL)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 23 March 2023 — Next Sunday the Cuban regime will hold “elections” where 470 candidates for Parliament will “dispute,” nothing more and nothing less than 470 seats. When you try to explain this process to any citizen of a democratic country, their brain usually short-circuits. But that’s the scheme, as absurd and brazen as it sounds. The people choose absolutely nothing; they simply ratify a decision that has already been made previously by the single party.

To carry out this esoteric trap, they resort to the “united vote.” The Government itself will be in charge of spending millions of resources on propaganda to convince you that you should vote for everyone, as if it were a combo. If in Stalin’s USSR the ballots presented a single candidate, then in the Cuba of the Castro brothers they save paper. Just put a jumble of names on a ballot and add a circle on top of it that summarizes them all. By the way, you also save ink.

Fidel himself expressed in February 1993 that the ’united vote’ was not a technical issue, but a political issue, that it was “the strategy of patriots, of revolutionaries.” In reality, it was simply his strategy to play at voting, once every five years, without risking absolutely anything.

No candidate, obviously, can be suspected of having divergences in official thinking. All have passed through several filters to reach the final list and will continue to be watched with a magnifying glass, in case they present any ideological deviation along the way. They will be allowed to have some corrupt behaviors, of course. Cuba is a country where corruption is called “fight” and everyone knows “how bad it is.” But State Security will keep in its drawers any material that can compromise them, just in case they have to “be ruined” to make an example of them, as they did with Carlos Lage and Felipe Pérez Roque.

When I lived in Cuba, I was close to several deputies, and the truth is that the vast majority are indistinguishable. They dedicate themselves to attending endless meetings; they will unanimously approve any decision that comes from above, and they will enjoy some privileges that the position affords them.

That’s why the electoral campaigns are superfluous. There is no need to have or present any project. All you need is a poorly printed biography showing your photo, the morning assemblies at school in which you participated during your childhood and the mass organizations to which you belong. Hardly anyone will stop to read this nonsense, which is usually identical. That is also why the ballot boxes are guarded by children. After all, what could go wrong?

But Cuba is no longer the place where people used to vote like automatons, to “get it over with.” On recent occasions, the number of abstentions, canceled and blank ballots has increased dramatically. Díaz-Canel goes along under pressure, from platform to platform, taking advantage of anything, even if it’s a defeat in baseball of 14 to 2. What does it matter? He and his bosses (generals with more stars than principles) know perfectly well that this March 26 could break the mold: the rejection of a rigged, grotesque and undemocratic model.

Even seeing it from the perspective of those who sympathize with the Revolution, this management has been, by far, the worst in decades! They have not fulfilled any of the projects that were drawn up (like that plan of 1.7 homes a day); inflation rises at a quadrangular rate; hunger lurks in every corner of the country; repression is more guaranteed than the bread of the quota; the blackouts are a joke; the young people leave, and the violence expands in an alarming way.

To make matters worse, the visible figures of the system could not be more gray or unpleasant. Díaz-Canel and his “wife who works at her work” (as he himself called her) have shone in the art of cantinfleo (with the pardon of Cantinflas*). I’m not sure if they try to emulate Maduro, but their clumsiness is about to set a Guinness world record.

What should we Cubans do? Regardless of everyone’s ideology, we have to be honest with ourselves. It would be enough to look around and understand that the night cannot be eternal. This Sunday we can show them and the world that this obsolete and decadent system does not have our support. We can leave them alone in their circus, without being able to boast of a power that is completely unpopular.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.