Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Elections in Cuba

Yesterday Cuba completed its suspense-free elections for the 614-member National Assembly. “Nobody lost,” as the New York Times put it in its 88-word account; all 614 candidates received more than the requisite 50 percent.

As the passage of time necessitates, this election continues the process of replacing the revolution’s historicos with Cubans who grew up in the revolution: 60.9 percent of the legislators-to-be were reportedly born after January 1, 1959, and only 37 percent are returning incumbents.

There may come a time when this generational change could affect Cuban policy in some dramatic way. But for now, it seems to me that the importance of this electoral process is that it forces a decision on the political future of Fidel Castro, who been out of public view for nearly 18 months.

Last month, Castro seemed to hint that he could move into an an advisory, non-executive role, such as returning as a member of the Council of State – but not as its President, and therefore not as Cuba’s chief of state. Since then, the hints from Cuba that Fidel will relinquish the presidency have continued to pile up. (There have also been hints to the contrary, such as Carlos Lage and Ricardo Alarcon saying that they would vote for Fidel.) The guessing game ends February 24 when the new National Assembly chooses the 31 members of the Council of State and also chooses its President and Vice Presidents.

1 comment:

Omar said...

The uncertainty about Fidel's formal role in the next legislature is huge. Nobody knows. Sometimes I even think that not even those at the top. At the end it will be his decision. Imagine, if no one can change a letter in his published ¨Reflecciones¨, what can you expect for his soon to be decided formal role? The guy was tough, is tough and will be tough until his last day in earth. That has proven to be both an asset to push the borders of the impossible and the limits of conventional wisdom and a liability for obstructing the implementation of the possible and the rational. The list is long in both cases and it is futile trying to separate one from the other because they both come from the same nature. Nothing should be taken for granted here. Neither his words nor those of Lage and Alarcón. In the near future no one in the power will dare to criticize his legacy, despite some of them may consider that the time has been ripen for while for Fidel to focus on his grandsons and granddaughters. When he has said that he will leave when he consider it is the time to do so, I do believe what he say, but I disagree with his conclusion. On the other hand, have you imagined an scenario were changes take place having him in the formal presidency? Don't you consider him to have enough imagination? What matters is progress, and not if he is there or not. I know many of you think that changes and Fidel are incompatible...but I'm still not that sure.