|Yoani Sanchez electoral "summons" (1)|
Curiously, almost all those who make it to circumscription delegate are militants of the Communist Party of Cuba and put party discipline above their duty toward their electors. They are not going to represent us in front of the government, nor be our voice addressing institutions, they just will serve as the announcers of the bad news coming from above, channels for these regulations and orders that a few decide. In the more than thirty years of their existence these representatives of the Poder Popular [People's Power] have not managed to have garbage picked up efficiently, to have bakeries work as they should or that the sewers do not ooze everywhere. Neither do they represent the heterogeneity of our society. They have reached these positions for their proven fealty rather than their managing skills.
Tonight is the meeting to propose a candidate in the concrete blocks where I live. The citation has reached me a couple of days ago while on TV we were convoked to elect the best and more able. However, I have not a shred of faith in a mechanism that has proven its uselessness and its sectarianism. I would like to lift my hand for that neighbor with the firm speech and concrete projects that lives across the hall, but there are orders to block the way to whomever proposes a "dissident", even those who merely lean toward some change. It is very likely that the same delegate will be repeating, the one who for more than ten years promises us solutions knowing full well that it is not within his reach to fulfill them. He is the safe candidate of these empty elections, and we are the figurines that must raise their hands of fill up a card.
This is of course, you do realize, what awaits us in Venezuela sooner than what you expect. Or what do you think are those consejos comunales (communal councils) that the government is trying to build, at least in its sectors where it is still a majority so as to keep that "majority" under control.
Those consejos comunales are nothing else but the chavista version of the feared Cuban CDR, Comites de Defensa de la Revolucion (committee for the defense of the revolution), who sign the summons sent to Yoani above. Under the pretext that they both guarantee the power to the people, Poder Popular in both countries political lingo, they are in fact clever mechanism of control, and fine tuned machines to kill democracy, or at least delay for ever any tendency to it that might exist, even after more than 50 years of dictatorship as Yoani Sanchez tells us.
The way they work is very simple: you vote on anything that such councils must vote on, with raised hands, while your boss, your local party representative, your fanatic neighbor watches. Tell me, who is going to dare these people after they see what happened to the few who dared? Castro Communism has understood very well that the secret ballot is at the end the very worst enemy they have.
True, there is still some occasional ballot voting, as Yoani herself indicates. For example in Venezuela, the heads of a Consejo Comunal are elected on secret ballot. But after that all debates and votes are public. You can imagine very well by yourself that once a Consejo elects a chavista board it will be nearly impossible to have a non chavista board voted in the future. Even in an opposition Consejo where chavismo represents a 40% you can imagine the psychological effect of red shirts attending the meetings. That is why chavismo has no trouble allowing Consejos Comunales elect opposition leaders in many communities, their objective first is to control the barrios. Little by little, the inner mechanism of these councils, allied to the lack of independent judicial, will make sure that someday even the La Castellana consejo be chavista.
To fasten the process chavismo is diligently killing decentralization, centralizing all decision making in Caracas with a series of recent laws. That is, if in your local Consejo Comunal you wanted to, say, fix an oozing sewer, you need to ask for the money directly to Caracas. Caracas will make of course a great show of those chavista councils that receive their grants while those in a non chavista council will notice that not a penny comes their way in spite of all the taxes they pay.
Control in Venezuela has still been difficult to establish because of the inherent inefficacy of chavismo, too burdened by ideological content to clean up sewers, pick up trash, bring you light and water. But that is OK as far as chavismo is concerned, they are aware that it is necessarily a slow system to establish as Venezuela is not an Island and not in 1958 anymore: what Chavez in the end wants is a solid base where to recruit red shirts to beat up on occasion, as needed, opposition Consejos.
Finally with time Consejos will become mere CDR. The way to rise to the top of your Consejo, to be nominated and elected will be to rat on your neighbors, to write reports on who is patriotic and who is not. It is also implicit in such systems where accusations are public and in the open and where the best way to survive is to be the first one to accuse. We saw quite often in our modern world, namely since the French Revolution Terreur. that way even if the country is broke and cannot really pay you anything it can still offer you the sweet drug of power over your neighbor.
Some of you may laugh, but what Yoani describes could be Venezuela's reality within years of Chavez retaining the Nazional Assembly this September and reelection in 2012, when a new constitution makes away with governors and mayors, leaving Chavez alone with an inorganic mass of Consejos and a weak Assembly elected by the consejos and not by the direct vote of the people. Do not say that you dd not see the coincidences with the Cuban system, that you have not been warned. Venezuela as a Cuban colony is bound to adotpo its political system just as many English colonies adopted representative democracy with great success. It is inherent to the colonial system.
1) Translation of the summons (it is an invitation but we all know that you better show up)
Information to the voter
Comrade [abbreviated] Yoani, elector living in the area where the CDR Nº 6 is located Name [empty, curiously, no hero name used?]
through this way we inform you that as accordign to Electroal Law you ahve the right to attend the ASSEMBLY FOR THE NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES FOR DELEGATE TO THE MUNICIPAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PODER POPULAR that will be held march 5 of 2010, at 8:00PM, at the door fo your building. Electoral comission of Circumscription Nº 72.
My Notes: Yoani is defined according to her CDR, not her municipal or electoral district. In fact, we do not even know the name of the province where she votes. The capital bold letters of the subject matter imply by themsleves that you certainly should not miss such an important event. Although Yoani does not say it is quite possible that such note was hand delivered by the local CDR boss, to make sure you know that you have the "right" to attend.