With Neither Pain Nor Glory, Neither Frights Nor Fiestas

The deputies will have a few minutes, or at most a couple of hours, to decide; although this will suffice. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 30 September 2019 — As if it was news, on Monday the official media finally announced that the State Council of the Republic of Cuba arranged for the holding of an extraordinary Session of the National Assembly of Popular Power on 10 October 2019 at 10:00 AM at the Palace of the Conventions to elect the president and vice president of the Republic, in addition to the three highest positions of the Parliament — president, vice president and secretary — and the remaining members of the State Council.

The almost nine million citizens with the right to vote in Cuba are still unaware of the names that will appear on the list drawn up by the National Nominations Commission. Nor is there any need for them to know, because those who will mark a cross next to each name written on the ballot will be the deputies of Parliament.

The mystery has been revealed not even to these, and they will have only minutes, or at most a couple of hours, to make their decision; the time between the moment they are handed the ballot and the solemn act of depositing it in the ballot box. It should be noted that they will not have to choose their preferred among several candidates, but only approve those that appear on the list.

They know that they should not delay too much within the space where they will fulfill their electoral obligations, in supposed privacy. Loyalty and discipline are part of the merits that led them to occupy a seat in the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) and this is one of those acts where their obedience will be tested. If there were a single box to mark their acceptance of all the candidates, they would choose it as a “patriotic, revolutionary, continuity” option.

You can bet that the one who will be elected president of the Republic will be Miguel Díaz-Canel. If this decision were taken in a democracy, political analysts would be weighing the positive effects of the recent rise in wages against the negative consequences of the current energy situation that threatens to paralyze the country.

In any nation where voters elect their president the chances of success of the candidates are measured by their successes and failures and by the credibility they earn from their voters. In Cuba it is difficult, even, to speculate, because everything can depend on the mood of an old man who has the power to change everything at the last minute.

In the midst of the uncertainty in which a population lives, in which nobody knows if tomorrow their workplace will continue to work, what goods will disappear, what bus routes will cease to circulate or how many hours the electrical service in the homes will last, it is likely that this call to a special session of parliament will pass with neither pain nor glory, neither frights nor fiestas.

The few interested in the subject are inclined to shuffle names for the positions of vice president of the Republic and head of the ANPP. They hope that Esteban Lazo will be retired and that figures that have stood out in recent times will be promoted, such as Homero Acosta, Mercedes López Acea and Inés María Chapman. Others wonder where in this redistribution of powers will fall such figures such as Marino Murillo, Roberto Morales Ojeda or Salvador Valdés Mesa, but these disquisitions are nothing but entertainment for connoisseurs.

If, on October 10, we learn that the positions “in dispute” will be filled by other strangers, no one will be surprised… who cares about the result of this staging?


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