Monday, February 4, 2013

No-drama elections (Updated)

Cuba held its parliamentary elections yesterday, no suspense as usual, the only surprise being that Fidel Castro went to a polling place in Havana to vote.  (See Granma’s front page.)  Raul went to eastern Cuba, voted in Mayari Arriba in Santiago province, and paid his respects to comrades who died in the anti-Batista struggle and to his wife Vilma, his “life-long love.”  The only next-generation official covered in Granma is Miguel Diaz-Canel, a vice president of the Council of Ministers who, along with the foreign minister, was at Raul Castro’s side at the recent summit in Santiago.

Cuban media played up the high rate of participation, where 86 percent of eligible voters had gone to the polls by 5:00 p.m., one hour before polls closed. 

Juventud Rebelde pointed out that candidates for provincial and national legislatures included “artists, campesinos, workers, housewives, and small entrepreneurs.”  Fifty-two candidates were under age 35, and 48 percent between 38 and 50 years old.

Whether this will make a difference in a legislature known for unanimity remains to be seen. 

When the new National Assembly is seated later this month, it will elect from among its members the 31-member Council of State and its officers.  That will surely include the re-election of Raul Castro as President.  If there’s any drama in this election, it will be in what follows: the election the Vice Presidents, who constitute the line of succession to the presidency.  One Luis Morlote, quoted in the Juventud Rebelde article, said that the young candidates are a sign of “indispensable generational continuity to strengthen our revolutionary process.”  We’ll see if that “strengthening” includes the naming of a new first vice president to replace the incumbent, age 82.

Update: Cuba’s electoral authorities reported that nearly 90 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; 94 percent of ballots were valid and 5.83 percent invalid (4.63 percent blank, and 1.2 percent “annulled”).  In 2008, 4.76 percent were invalid, La Jornada reports.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The generational succession is also the occasion to substitute the Fidel Castro chadre with new and younger leaders coming from Minfar ranks and loyal to Raul Castro.

Raul Castro needs to put in place new leaders named by him and beholden to him who can implement his reforms.

The Cuban government is roughly divided into two groups.

An older group wanting to hang on to power in the short run until they die who know that reforms are necessary but who do not expect a social explosion before the end of their watch and see no need to expedite them. Indeed they fear them because there is the danger that the reforms could have unintended destabilization effects.

Then there is a younger group of wannabees who expect the social explosion to come sometime after they take charge and want to expedite reforms to stop the social explosion from occurring or at least retarding it.

Fidel heads the first group and Raul the second and there is a power struggle going on between both groups that will center on how quickly the old guard will be retired and substituted by a newer one.

There has to be a reason why the Cuban government leaders talk about rejuvenation but do nothing to carry it out.

The next National Assembly session is the occasion when the product of this hidden power struggle becomes visible.

Raul is running out of time in his ten year hold on power to carry out his reforms.

He ahs to move quickly to get anything done and I suspect that he is in a hurry to dispense with the deadwood and put his own followers into leadership positions so that he could get something done.

He is not getting any younger and the clock is ticking.

Also Hugo Chavez coming funeral and the coming Venezuelan succession aggravates the tendion and forces a speedy solution to Cuba's leadership crisis.

Two fundamental question for Cuba's future are:

1- Which one of the two brothers dies first?
2- How long will the elder brother live?

If Raul Castro goes first Cuba will be up the creek.

Also the longer big brother lives, the less time younger brother will have to carry out his reforms before he passes on or has to retire due to poor health.

This hidden power struggle should be reflected in the leadership of top government officials in the coming National Assembly Session.

But do not necessarily expect a massive rejuvenation of th country's top leadership because the old boys are hanging on for dear life and being big brother's power base are still being backed by Him.

The real defining factor is Fidel Castro's health. As long as he is still vigoourous enouch to run the country behind the scenes, don't count on new promotions or rapid reforms.

Get set to read the tea leaves!