‘Elections’ in Cuba. (CUBADEBATE)
«Technical adjustments» are all several opposition and civil society actors interviewed by DIARIO DE CUBA believe there will be in the Government’s new Electoral Law.
As announced on Wednesday, the president of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, Esteban Lazo, «six months after» the conclusions of the current «debate» process on the new Constitution, stated that «the first task of the Legislative Power should be to draft a new Electoral Law.»
Opposition leader Antonio Rodiles, with the Forum for Rights and Freedoms (ForoDyL) believes that it will surely be «to fit it in with this whole pretense of an alleged Constitution.»
«If they proceed from the premise, in the Constitution, that the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) remains a supra-state entity, and that the PCC, as its own statutes state, is the force that directs and guides the work of the mass organizations, and, at the same time, it is the mass organizations that, through the candidacy commissions, propose the sets of candidates, then this is all just smoke and mirrors,» he declared.
«I think that, technically, formally –aside from in practice– it is much worse. They, all by themselves, demonstrate that, as things are, there can be no process that is in any way democratic,» he added.
«All the decrees that they have announced (Business Law, Penal Code), are simply to comply with the Party’s directives. They are instruments to shape the legacy that Raúl Castro wants to leave,» he insists.
In Rodiles’ view, nothing should be expected from the changes that may be included in the Electoral Law announced.
«This is another step backwards. They are working to repress Cuban society even further, to put the screws to it so that it toes the line that they are drawing.»
«This whole repressive broadside, this passage of allegedly complementary laws, is all about exerting more control. It is not about allowing some spaces of freedom, or any leeway for people. It is clear that it is quite the opposite.»
Much ado about nothing
The independent journalist Dimas Castellanos has stated that «judging by the way things are unfolding, nothing that is done at this time is going to make any real difference for the people.»
«This is just window dressing, while the essence remains the same,» indicates Castellanos, a political scientist and author of the book The Failed Revolution.
In the analyst’s view, «a real Electoral Law must include, at some point, the right to have other political parties, and the regime is not willing to do that.»
Manuel Cuesta Morúa, with the citizen platform #Otro18, believes that «it is premature to interpret the real meaning of this announcement, but in any case (an Electoral Law) was necessary (for the Government) because it has to adjust to the new administrative structure of the country and the State.»
«In fact, those who were previously the presidents of the provincial assemblies are no longer elected, as the governors are now appointed. And that has to be reflected in some way in the new Electoral Law,» he explained.
«In view of the Constitutional reform itself, it does not seem that this Electoral Law will go beyond these types of technical adjustments, and the fundamental demand to shrink the Cuban parliament, which has more representatives than the US Congress, and perhaps regulate popular participation in the election of local authorities.»
In addition to the drafting of a new Electoral Law, Esteban Lazo noted the slated reduction in the number of representatives in the National Assembly, currently 605.
«One of the things that they are proposing is, precisely, to hold the election of the provincial deputies at the same time as that for the members of the municipal assemblies. Everything seems to indicate that the electoral process will be unified, every five years.»
«In any case, I do not believe that there is any intention to expand the democratic participation of the people in the electoral process,» says Cuesta Morúa.
«That’s precisely why we, at the #Otro18 platform, are going to relaunch the Global Proposal for reform of the Electoral Law, also when the constitutional process ends, to uphold the idea that a reform of the Electoral Law must be democratic: direct election of the President of the Republic, and the creation of an independent and permanent Electoral Commission.»
«Now we would include, obviously, the direct election of the governors, and other issues that we are going to readdress.»
Cuesta Morúa also does not expect much from the announcement: «Democratization, in the sense of less bureaucratization, but not real democratization.»
«In the 21st century they draft a Constitution according to which the governors, who really engage with the voters, are not even going to be elected, but rather appointed. This is an electoral system that is almost like something typical of a protectorate, a colonial era, during which the president appointed each of the provincial governors. This does not happen anywhere else in the world.»