Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cuban elections (guest post from Val Prieto)

Today I am taking the unusual step of posting a comment left by someone who calls himself "leftside". I thought for a while about not posting it as I considered it to be a troll. But I thought better of it as it would give me a great opportunity to post against Castro here, in Venezuela News, and to have Val from Babalu do it as a guest post, something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. Indeed, who better than the extensive work of Babalú to counter the nonsense read too often on Cuba as to the alleged freedom and prosperity enjoyed by its people. So I sent the comment of leftside to Val who graciously agreed. Below the comment of leftside, followed by the great reply of Val and a mini comment of yours truly. Thanks Val! ¡Un abrazo!

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The first part of leftside comment, "as is". (the rest is in the corresponding thread)

Daniel, there are elections every 5 years in Cuba - for national and municipal candidates, where the Communist Party has no role. There have been plenty of non-Party members elected... including priests. 95% of people voted and 5% of the ballots were spoiled or left blank, if you want to guage opposition.

Then there was the national referendum on the Verela Project, which affrirmed the socialist character of Cuba forever - something that passed with 99% by 90% of the voters. And no, no one lost their job or was murdered or put in prison because they did not vote or voted against socialism. But I am sure you will tell me this does not reflect the people's true will and that as soon as there is a free election they will vote away their constitution and vote for american-style capitalist democracy.

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The reply from Val

In Cuba, on election day, members of the local CDR - Committee for the Defense of the Revolution - come to your home and rouse you from bed and force you to vote. The elections consist of "candidates" hand picked by the state. Failure to vote gets you noted by your CDR agent which in turn leads to future harassment through loss of job, loss of rationing books, relocation of home and family, fines for just about anything the state wants to fine you on. So, while some type of election does take place, per se, they are neither democratic nor do they represent the choices and opinions of the people as the elections are rigged to prevent members of any opposition parties from running by having only state approved "candidates." Cubans will "vote" for those they have been told they are supposed to vote for.

It's rather disingenuous to cite numbers from a government that runs such a closed society and it most certainly does not represent the true will of the Cuban people. Ask any Cuban living in exile and they will tell you all about how "elections" are run in Cuba.

There's a very simple truth to be seen on this issue for those who wish to see it: just about every single aspect of Cuban society has deteriorated. Cuba is now a third world country with a two tier social structure: The government and tourists, who enjoy just about any western luxury available, to the average Cuban, who lives in deplorable conditions and spend his entire day in search of food for their families. Doesn’t it stand to reason after 47 years of being led by one man and living under such dire conditions, that - for the sake of argument - at least some Cubans, given a choice for change, would not make that choice if they were so able? Of course they would. You are only lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

Of course, there is always the Occam's Razor response to the Cuba issue:

The rafts only go one way.

Val

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My only note is that in their desperate search for arguments supporters of Chavez or Castro usually handle us the rope to deal with them. I wonder if leftside is able to realize that his comment in fact justifies action against Chavez since this one ONLY got 15% of the Venezuelan electorate to go and vote for his lists. If we have to accept leftside argument on Castro support then he cannot refuse to recognize that an “official” 75% abstention last December clearly demonstrates that Chavez should be sent packing. Preferably to Cuba on a raft. It is indeed fun to watch how the arguments of this supposedly left wing always end up mired in insurmountable contradictions.

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