The Yes Vote and No Vote on Cuba’s New Family Code Collide on a Street In Havana

An official this Thursday on Obispo Street in Old Havana talking about the Family Code. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 22 September 2022 — A scene this Thursday on Obispo Street, in Old Havana, was enough to show that the opinion of Cubans on the Family Code, whose referendum will be held next Sunday, is far from uniform.

This isn’t what the Government would like, judging by the resources it has been deploying for months to guide the population to vote yes, without giving space to any discordant voice. In addition to the complimentary notes in the official press on the new rule, the final text of which has been available in the Official Gazette since August 17, are joined, in recent days, acts of propaganda in the streets.

The one on Obispo Street, this Thursday, would have been very difficult at another time, given the obligatory stop for tourists that has always been at that point of Old Havana. This is not the case this month of September, when the volume of foreign travelers still hasn’t rebounded, and the street has only a few passers-by in the hottest hours of the day.

That’s why it caught the attention of the resident so much that, before noon, there were tables selling handicrafts — decorated with posters containing the slogan “Yes on the Code,” and some officials — wearing T-shirts with the same slogan — with a microphone placed in the middle of the street.

Before the crowd, an official began to explain different aspects of the Family Code, such as the protection it would provide to the elderly. At one point, with pedagogical concession, he asked the people around him what they thought.

“I think this is very bad,” replied an old woman to whom they gave the microphone. “Because I understand that marriage has to be between a man and a woman, not between two men and two women,” the woman said, based on her religious beliefs.

At that moment, without removing the microphone, the music that enlivened the activity through loudspeakers began to sound at full volume, in such a way that it prevented the old woman from being heard. Without being intimidated, the woman raised her voice even more: “I vote no, I vote no!”

In her favor, many of those who had spontaneously gathered to hear the official began to speak up. “This is a lack of respect,” one man protested, defending the old woman. “Don’t ask me my opinion if you’re going to call the police later, because that’s not democracy,” another woman shouted.

One of the summoned officials replied: “This is Revolution, and now it’s more important than ever to vote yes.”

Three days before the plebiscite on the Family Code, the Government hasn’t given up trying to win by all possible means. This Thursday, President Miguel Díaz-Canel will lead a special program on National Television to defend the yes vote.

For tomorrow, Friday, a march has been called in the capital, with the same slogan, “Yes on the Code,” “with the participation of Havana’s youth.” According to a message disseminated through official networks, the event will start at 3:00 pm along G and the Malecón, and there will be “dance troupes and congas.”

Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, called on Monday to “win the battle of the popular referendum, by a landslide,” in the face of what he calls “maneuvers of the enemies, the haters” alluding to the independent opinions that contradict the official voice.

On Tuesday, it was the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, who asserted that the Family Code has served as ” cannon fodder” for the “enemies” of the Revolution, who have carried out a “campaign” of disinformation about the content of the rule.

At the International Nature Tourism Event in Havana, Marrero declared that those who have positioned themselves against it — who in no case have had space in the official media — haven’t spoken “of all the virtues of the code, which identifies and unites the Cuban family.”

The Cuban regime does not appear to have the support it needs for the third referendum called in 63 years, the first one it could lose.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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