The Cuban Political System; Know The Truth!

Know the truth!

Before the revolution in 1959 Cuba was a dictatorship in every sense of the word. The entire nation was suppressed under the tight grip of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. There were no free elections, opposition to Batista's power was forbidden, and the Cuban people were deprived of the basic human right to be allowed to act as a sovereign nation with the power to move forward, and form its own future.

Since the revolution in 1959, Cuba has travelled a long way, from the oppressed, suffering nation that it was, and has since established its own unique form of democracy.

However there is still limited access to information about Cuba, and what little information there is, is prone to be misleading, due to The United State Of America's domination over the majority of the world's media power. As a result, many people still posses unclear and misinformed views on the Cuban political system, forcing them to be critical of the so called 'dictatorship' which they believe is still enforced, making them sometimes even reluctant to either support, or travel to Cuba.

Some Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

Are there elections in Cuba?

Yes. There are direct elections to the Municipal, Provincial, and National Assemblies. The Cuban parliament is represented by the National Assembly.

Do all electoral candidates have to be a member of the Communist party?

No; although this is widely believed to be the case. Electoral Candidates for the Municipal council are nominated at local neighbourhood meetings which are generally well attended, and by electoral commissions, which consist of representatives of mass national organisations, such as trade unions, the national association of small farmers, and the federation of Cuban women. Electoral candidates for the municipal council can be anyone in the community, they are nominated by earning their respect in the neighbourhood for reasons such as, hard work, honesty, and known intelligence. It is not compulsory that these people are members of the communist party, although many are. No political party, including the Communist party is permitted to nominate, or campaign for any of the candidates.

How is Cuba's National Assembly (National Parliament) elected?

This nomination procedure is extremely complex, and involves nominations from the Municipal councils. Candidates can also be nominated through different National organisations. All the nominations are collected, and the candidacy commission undertake in depth consultations, before publishing a final list of candidates. In preparation for the 1993 elections, one and a half million people from the general public were consulted. An extensive list comprising of 60-70 thousand potential candidates was established. This figure was later reduced to a final 589 candidates.

Is the political participation of the Cuban people strong?

Every adult over the age of 16 excluding only convicted prisoners, and Cubans who have left the country are entitled to vote. This means that a higher percentage of people have the right to vote in Cuba than in many western societies such as Great Britain. The electoral turnout of those eligible to vote in 1993 was 99%. Out of these only 7% of the ballots were spoiled.

What happens to Cubans if they do not exercise their right to vote?

Voting in Cuba is not compulsory, and therefore people who choose not to vote are not punished, however the government attempts to persuade Cubans wishing not to vote to spoil their Ballot paper, so that they are able to make an objection, which can then be more easily considered.

How is the President elected?

The National Assembly elects a board of 41 members of state, these people can be anyone who has already been elected on to the National Assembly. The Members of state have equivalent posts as the central government of Great Britain. Included in these posts is that of President.

Does Castro have the same powers as a Dictator?

All of the Deputies is the Cuban parliament, Fidel Castro included are subject to recall at any time, this means that if Castro is not seen as doing a sufficient job as a president, his powers as a ruler can be instantly with drawn. There is also a law, that requires Castro and all the other Deputies to report back to a mass meeting every six months, this enables the Cuban people to monitor the progress of the leaders, and to raise concerns if need be. If Castro was a dictator he would not have been voted in through the ballot box, where it is possible for opposition to stand against him.

Are any political parties other than the Communist party allowed to form in Cuba?

No; this is perhaps the most misleading aspect of the Cuban democratic system. In a famous speech, Castro promised Cuban's that totally free elections would be established in Cuba, however this is not yet become the case. Although any individual can be nominated as a electoral candidate, regardless of whether they are a member of the Communist party or not. The formal formation of any other organised political party has not yet been permitted. This is because there are fears that if any other party was to form, the USA  would immediately interfere, and fund the non-communist party highly, so that the socialist society would be undermined and Cuba would no longer remain a independent nation detached from political involvement from exterior parties. However if the USA were to stop the constant threat of interference, then the formation of other political parties would more likely be permitted.

Anna Kagan
Manchester CSC
February 2002