by Laritza Diversent
January 11, 2008
HAVANA, Cuba – The tranquility that one might
sense at the moment from Cuba’s political landscape is hardly
synonymous with calm. The significance of certain facts, which have
been mostly overlooked, is evidence of the regime’s fear and
insecurity. The stale image of Fidel Castro that displays his biographical
information in the massive campaign for his nomination as a national
deputy has invoked indignation and laughter. It shows a picture
from 20 to 25 years ago or perhaps more, when he was still plump
and healthy. His actual appearance these days is one of decrepitude.
Raul Castro’s trip through Santiago de Cuba
this past December 24th demonstrated the lack of comfort that the
main leaders of the socialist revolution have about the upcoming
The area of Santiago de Cuba was chosen strategically
for its geographic characteristics. Most of the areas municipalities
have low population densities because of the mountainous terrain,
which permits the proposed candidates to claim a victory from a
small electoral body. Thus, they can maintain their advantageous
positions in the National Assembly.
This it is the reason why some of the most powerful
people in the Cuban government are nominated for provinces with
these characteristics. In Santiago of Cuba’s case alone the
nominated candidates are, besides the Castro brothers, Juan Almeida
Bosque, Ulysses Rosales del Toro, José Ramón Balaguer
Cabrera, Abelardo Colomé Ibarra and Fernando Vecino Alegret,
The political strategy is based on demographic studies
of each region in the country, which bear in mind the average level
of education and the political attitudes of the population, in order
to assure the status quo for the highest ranking government officials
in Castro’s bureaucratic oligarchy.
The simple speeches that Raul Castro gave in different
Santiago localities, was almost an urgent appeal to the population
to vote for Fidel. There is no doubt that he performed this campaign
tour as a representative calling personally for his brother’s
The fact that he has tried to convince the townspeople
of Santiago, and indirectly the people of Cuba, of Fidel Castro’s
mental integrity is further evidence that we Cubans still have our
doubts. The details that have been given about his health are insufficient
And yet, we haven’t even stated the concrete
objection that we have about newly proposing the deteriorating Quixote
of the East as a national representative. It is a well known fact
that his illness will make it impossible for him to carry out his
functions as representative.
Articles 21 and 25 of the National Assembly’s
specific outline the rules for how and when a representative can
be chosen. In the case of Fidel Castro, his inability to campaign
for his own nomination, shows sufficient evidence that the laws
in the books are not respected.
They are using his figure as curtain to cover up
Cuba’s political landscape, or perhaps they simply want to
complete the final wishes of the Commander: to die in the power.
I am inclined to believe that it is the latter.
The 20 year old image that accompanies campaign materials
is intended to leave an engraving in the memory of the Cubans of
the vigor and sturdiness of his past glory.
One thing that we can say for sure: the continued
presence of Fidel Castro in the political life of the country is
In an environment where there have been minimal political
confrontations, the actions of Raúl Castro are senseless.
He should be focusing on enforcing the laws and the proximity of
Article 171 of the Electoral Law on "Electoral
Ethics", specifies that candidates must participate as a group
in acts, conferences and visits to workplaces. In this case, Raúl
Castro did his tour alone, in order to taking advantage of his political
prominence by giving Fidel even more of an advantage over the other
It doesn’t matter if the votes are registered
as united or in a block, because in this particular case, these
actions have made the vote irrelevant for the other nominees. On
account of him, all of the proposed candidates have assured themselves
a position in the National Assembly.
The fact is we Cubans will be victims in the days
ahead. Any incentive, from participating in the upcoming election
or for using political confrontations to permit us to determine
who the people most capable of representing our interests are, has
Raúl Castro also took advantage of the occasion
to make promises to the town of Santiago. In almost 50 years of
socialism, the revolution has never worried about their hydraulic
networks. On the contrary, they have let time corrode them or destroy
them. I highly doubt that by 2009 or any time in the near future
that the province of Santiago of Cuba, with its geographical particularities,
will have running water 24 hours a day.
The fact that the existing laws prohibit publicity
for election campaigns, doesn’t mean that our process is actually
free of such displays. Or that examples of opportunism, demagogy
and cheap politicking aren’t present. The fact that such major
governmental figures are the ones violating these laws and that
nobody dares to contradict such disrespectful political and legal
acts, is just further evidence of what Cuba’s political landscape
is really like.
It is proof that neither of the Castro brothers
is different from the other. Those that think that under the current
mandate things will change in our favor have pawned their hopes
here to read in Spanish
Translated by Scott Hudson (People in Need)