In a recent statement by U.S. President Bush has issued a threat to Cuba: “life will not fundamentally change for Cubans until their form of government changes.” Bush goes on in his next paragraph to call for “free and fair elections” in Cuba. He completely ignores that fact that the form of government in Cuba has already changed. The U.S. President declares that Cuba has earned its independence 106 years ago this week. The Cuba which he is celebrating was characterized by U.S. domination and rule through the Creole elite.
The form of government consisted in the main of a U.S. model multi-party system alternating with open fascist coups d’états. When the multi-party system controlled by the ruling Cuban elite with the benedictions and assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba could no longer keep the progressive and revolutionary forces from making headway within the multi-party system, the Creole elite organized a coup and suspended the constitution. This was the case in 1952 when all the evidence showed that Fidel Castro and other progressive forces would make headway big time in the Cuban legislature. When Batista organized the coup d’état in March 1952 in order to avoid elections, it was immediately recognized by Washington. This situation provoked the struggle lead by Fidel and Raul Castro and others. The new form of government, a revolutionary democracy based on direct relationship and inter-action between the people and the new leadership was actually established during 1957-58 in the liberated areas in eastern Cuba. Along with this form of government, a new content immediately evolved within the liberated areas to bring about changes in land distribution, education, health and other fields. This went on even while being under attack by the US-controlled and financed Batista armed forces. In 1959, and the 1960s a unique form of direct democracy emerged along with the re-establishment of the 1940 Constitution taking into account the concrete conditions of the time. Once again the form of government opened the path for a new content, that is further and far-reaching changes for the workers, peasants, intellectuals and middle strata in the economic, social, cultural, education spheres.
In order to deepen and improve the participation of the people in the government, a series of changes were brought about in the 1970s. One of the most important was the 1975 public debate on the new Constitution. Six million people participated and brought about changes in 60 articles. In 1976, the Constitution was put to a formal, secret ballot universal suffrage vote in which 98% of the voters participated. 97.7 percent voted in favour of the new Constitution. Bush has to deal with this. This current form of Cuban government is the one approved by the people in this way. 1976 was also the beginning of the a new form of government in Cuba through elections.
The new form of government has been ratified on many occasions. If one takes the election results from 1993 right through the last elections of 2007-08, in all four national general elections, the number of people participating is always between 96.89 and 99.57 percent. The call by the U.S. administrations and their allies in Cuba to spoil ballots always resulted in a disaster. As I have witnessed myself during the elections in 1998 and recently in 2008, many of the spoiled ballots are counted as being nullified by the polling boards even if it is obviously a result of an error or even enthusiasm. However regarding the spoiled ballots from 1993 to date, they were never higher than 3.73 percent. If one were to take into account the ballots annulled by mistake or enthusiasm, according to my own observations, the real percent would probably amount between 2 and 3 percent.
The united or slate vote since 1993 has always consisted of at least 90 percent of the valid votes. My own personal observations in polling stations coincide with the official statistics. My experience indicate that when voters do decide to vote selectively, they vote in favour of what Bush would call the “old guards”, that is Fidel and Raul Castro, Ricardo Alarcon, Carlos Lage, Jose Machada Ventura, Juan Almeida Bosque and others. This 10 percent of selective votes hardly represents a rejection of the revolution as some Cuban experts attempt to insinuate. Elections for government in Cuba are a complicated matter. However, one fact emerges from the statistics and my discussions with voters: The elections amount to a ratification of the Cuban form of government. Bush has to face this fact. And this form of government is the key to the changes in the economic and social spheres which have been brought about. Bush would have so much preferred to say on May 21st that the last elections proved that there is dwindling support for the Cuban form of government and use this as pretext to march in. However, all their attempts at destabilization have completely failed and so he has to ignore once again the elections and the current constitution.
Bush has no right to moralize to the Cuban about free and fair elections. In Cuba, even opponents to the government can be nominated for elections. In some cases they have done so on the Municipal levels over the last four elections. However, they have received only several votes, like three votes in an assembly of about 200 people. According to reports, the most any government opponent has received is 30 votes. The problem for the opponents does not lie in the political system but rather in the fact that these individuals or so-called dissidents are completely isolated in Cuban society.
It is quite ironic that Bush is speaking in the name of free and fair elections when the whole world is currently a witness to the American elections. The following is notorious and no one makes any bones about it: Anyone running for president needs 100s of millions of dollars. In addition the two main political parties get the full and free support of the monopoly media and all the hype to the complete exclusion of other candidates. In 20th century pre-revolutionary Cuba, under U.S. domination, only a small percentage of the people were registered to vote. While Bush is celebrating the 106th anniversary of the so-called republic, he has to know that according to the electoral law of that period the right to vote was so restricted by wealth and other criteria that only 7% of the electorate voted. Today in the U.S., in the last 2004 presidential elections, only 74% of the voting age population 18 years and older were registered to vote. At present, in view of the November 2008 elections, the authorities in several states are hard at work to make the voters’ registration even more intimidating and complicated in order to exclude certain sections of the populations. Today in Cuba, any citizen 16 years and older has the right to vote. It is automatic, free and simple.
In Cuba Between 1943 and 1958 it was estimated that to be elected to the House of Representatives between 80,000 and 100,000 $ was necessary (in those days equivalent to far more). Today in Cuba with the form of government which Bush would like to tear down, it does not cost a cent to be nominated and elected to any level of the state and there is no salary for those elected.
Does all this mean that the form of government and the economic and social situation is perfect and no changes are needed? No, they are not perfect, changes are needed. But not the changes that Bush is talking about, which would amount to reverting Cuba once again into a colony of the U.S.: Sheer annexation, the dream of every U.S. president since the 18th century.
I have attended several assemblies, meetings and accountability sessions. Problems are raised by the voters as well as the elected. But the changes that the Cubans are talking about are changes and improvements within the socialist system while fully safeguarding the independence, sovereignty and dignity of the Cuban people. President Bush, hands off Cuba! Let the Cubans carry out the changes that they want.
Instead of declaring without any foundation that Cuba is isolated, look at the voting record in the U.N. where for many years, the US has isolated itself along with only one, two or three others countries in refusing to lift the blockade against Cuba. This is where changes are needed. Just apply the U.N. resolution. End the blockade! In the same vein, just follow your own and international laws against terrorism, extradite Posada to Venezuela and release the Cuban Five.
President Bush cynically uses the term solidarity. The Helms-Burton Law which was signed by a previous administration in 1996 is formally called the The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. Its goal was and still is to starve the Cuban people into submission by strengthening the blockade and have Cuba fall into the hands of the U.S. Other White House public appearances took place in 2008 previous to the one show-cased today. In all these cases it took place with families of the mercenaries. In addition, the most recent revelations earlier this week came to light: The provocative funnelling of money from openly terrorists sources in the U.S. through the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to U.S. Cuban allies in Havana. When Mr. Bush talks about solidarity, he really mean the further extension of the links of solidarity and mutual admiration between on the one hand the U.S. administration and those in Cuba and elsewhere who are working with the White House. Solidarity coming from Washington means interference, aggression and annexation of Cuba. The peoples of the world are not duped. President Bush should halt his policy of threats and attempts to dominate Cuba and the world.