CUBA : Effective popular electoral participation and control

By: Agnerys Rodriguez Gavilán

“Our political system is the main achievement of the Revolution, from which all the others depend. To strengthen it is even more important now, when we are updating the economic model and adopting the necessary changes to improve Cuban society.”

This statement was made on Friday july 6  in Havana, by the Politburo member Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, president of the Popular Power National Assembly, when he uttered the final words of the act of incorporation of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), and the taking possession of office of each of its members.

“I stress in particular, he explained, that these changes we are making in our model imply a role for the municipal assemblies of People’s Power, and therefore for the colleagues who will be elected as delegates to integrate them.”

In this way, towards the updating and improvement, the place and the scope for the general election process already underway are vital, and in particular the role of the NEC as its chief executive. In this regard, Alarcon said that all members will lead a process of political importance; it is no exaggeration if we describe it as a political battle that our people have to win once again.

To understand, he said, why it is a political battle, we must remember that in what is commonly known as the Bush Plan, the Plan for Assistance to a Democratic Transition in Cuba, a long chapter is devoted to the Cuban electoral system, and there the Americans are focused on these two points in particular, a new electoral register and, of course, promoting the organization of political parties to usurp the will that in our country each of the voters has been practicing in voting themselves, directly.

Someone might think, said that this was a plan of George W. Bush, and Bush is no longer president, but he who replaced him has never said such a plan is not in force. He has done something more, it has been applied systematically and consistently.

As a recent and concrete demonstration that Obama is continuing to apply the Bush Plan, Alarcon referred to the communication that the current administration sent to Congress in which it says that, to the many funds that are used to try to undermine Cuban society to pay mercenaries working to end this democratic system, they have decided to add 20 million more, to be used, according to this communication, between now and September 30 this year, at the conclusion of the current fiscal year.

If the Bush Plan were implemented, the current system of automatic, universal, free and simple enrollment would be abolished, and take away from the people the unique ability to decide who the candidates would be and return to one of the saddest moment of our history. During the first U.S. intervention, precisely what it did was put an end to democratic practices exercised by our freedom combatants in the free fields of Cuba, making an electoral register which gained the congratulations from its military headquarters in the Pentagon, because the voters of Cuba had been reduced to a tiny proportion of the population, characterized by two things, which was white, and had above-average income people.

But, we, and you, have to defend our system with energy and force, he said.

In his view, effective participation and popular control are the essence of our political system and are key factors in this stage of the Revolution.

Returning to the responsibility of the members of the NEC, he said: “You have been appointed to undertake a task of great historical responsibility. It is your responsibility to ensure strict adherence to the principles and rules of this, our system, to promote the free, conscious and authentic participation of the people throughout the process. So, congratulations, but I also ask you to fulfill that precious duty that the country gives you this time. ”
He urged them to work with zeal, dedication, to ensure that these principles not only to survive, not only develop, but are increasingly applied more rigorously, more exemplary, in the best way and with everyone, concluded Alarcon.

Attached to ethics

This Friday, and as established by the Cuban electoral law, members of the National Electoral Commission signed the Incorporation Act for taking office, with the Clerk of Council of State, Homero Acosta Alvarez, during a ceremony held in the Jose Marti Memorial, located in the Havana municipality of Plaza de la Revolution.

With this act theyconfirmed their willingness to keep loyalty to the Fatherland, to observe and enforce the performance of their duties under the Constitution, the Electoral Act and other regulations governing the electoral process; complete in time, with professionalism, discipline and rigor the activities inherent in the positions they practice, and that their performance will be characterized by fairness and transparency, accuracy and the timeliness of the information they provide.

Alina Balseiro Gutierrez, president of the National Electoral Commission, spoke of that responsibility when taking the Oath of the members of the senior leadership, which she heads.
The president of the NEC is a lawyer by profession, was vice president of the National Board of the National Organization of Collective Law, was also vice president of the National Electoral Commission in the previous election process and, until Friday, the president of the Temporary Work Commission that the Council of State created to prepare the ongoing general elections.

The NEC is also made by Rosa Charro Ruiz, Vice President, and Ruben Perez Rodriguez, Secretary. As members who will serve are: Caridad Alvarez Rivero, Tomas Amaran Diaz, Maria Esther Bacallao Martinez, Armando Barrera Garcia, Ariel Mantecón Ramos, Juan Mendoza Diaz, Raul Vantroi Navarro Martínez, Magalys Piñeiro Ravelo, Leonides Rodriguez Rojas, Heriberto Rosabal Espinosa, Joselin Sanchez Hidalgo, Luis Sola Vila, Julio A. Torres Garcia and Minerva Valdes Temprana.

In better organizational conditions

The country is holding the current general elections in better organizational conditions, said Homero Acosta at the opening of the act.

As part of the institutional strengthening and improving the state apparatus, he reported that in June last year the Council of State appointed a temporary work commission to create in time sufficient organizational bases for the electoral process, on which it has worked, in conjunction with other agencies, on among other things, the preparation of the electoral budget.

That same committee, he added, led the development of a software application that serves as a technical support for the elections, the draft regulations of the support structures of committees at various levels, and the proposed training plan for the electoral authorities.
“All this has allowed us to start this election process in a better organizational condition and more efficient in all areas,” he said.

The ceremony was also attended by Politburo member Salvador Valdes Mesa, general secretary of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba; the State Council member, Gladys Bejerano Portela, Comptroller General of the Republic, among other leaders of the Party, State, Government, mass organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of Interior.

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