To Get Real Elections / Eliecer Avila

Ever since I was little, I’ve paid attention to politics. I enjoyed, for example, the attention generated around the world by the election campaigns in the United States. I remember my elementary school teacher who was always waiting for who would be elected and told us things like, “If so-and-so wins, we’ll have to see. But if the other one wins, he’ll let us have it.”

I didn’t understand what that meant, but surely he was referring to starting a war against us or something of that sort. On one occasion, though I wasn’t even in the sixth grade yet, I asked my father when there would be elections here. By then he was in the army and also in the Communist Party. I remember he told me, “Soon, you’ll see that when you’re grown up you’ll be able to vote.”

I immediately fired off the second compulsory question: “And will Fidel always win?” To this he responded with a tirade that lasted over an hour which I didn’t understand, not then and not later. Honestly, I waited anxiously for the day, the one when I would be able to exercise my vote. What I could never imagine then is that things here would be very different, and now I understand why Cubans pay more attention to the elections in some other country than they do to their own.

But I won’t try to explain here the joke about elections in Cuba. A great deal has already been written about this, and whoever isn’t aware of the inability of the people to change their current political landscape with an real election system is too lazy to think. I prefer to focus on the figure and the strange administration of the president.

Notice that I say the president, not Raul. Because it isn’t the person who interests me, the person I don’t know. I’m sure I’m not the only one who asks what the president of this country does, what his commitment is to Puerto Padre or to El Yarey de Vazquez, my country birthplace. What does he do every day that we don’t see on television or anywhere else? What is his opinion on the issues we Cub discuss about the present and future of the country? When does the president talk to people? How does he listen to their problems?

If anyone has seem him out these days I apologize, but I have never been that lucky, nor do I know anyone who has. This gentleman doesn’t behave like a president and even worse, we admitted it once, nor do we behave like a people.

A people vibrates, protests, demands, compels, grants and takes away powers and faculties, rewards and penalizes those who help or hinder their development and well-being. We do none of this. On the contrary, we allow an evident and painful degree of isolation in our “public figures.”

These gentlemen run the country from the impunity of anonymity. Sometime’s I’m convinced that the president of this country does not like being president, does not enjoy like the previous one did, is not a leader of anything nor does he have ideas of his own to implement, much less a new vision of the future to share with his people. At best he is an “official,” perhaps respected among his inner circle, but he is never president, and would not be in any country with real elections. On the rare occasions when we can see him he’s constantly reading a prepared paper, I cannot imagine what he would do in a debate in front of the people with a serious and prepared opponent.

These days they are going around everywhere inviting people to participate in the “elections.” I already told you that as long as I can’t vote for president I won’t vote, I won’t be part of something so counterrevolutionary as helping to maintain the same thing infinitely.

Even when the day comes when I can vote for the president and for the top leaders of all the powers, I will not be complacent, I will not confide in anyone, nor vote for a puppet of the capital or of other things, I will not vote for an eternal Communist-schmoozer-leftist-unproductive-applicant. In short, I will not vote for many people, but I will vote, I know there are Cuban men and women who know how to earn my vote, and I will give it gladly, because I’m still waiting for the day to exercise my right, although I am also convinced that this day will not come on its own two feet, we are going to have to carry it on our shoulders, with intelligence and determination.


19 October 2012