Cuba’s Electoral System and the Dilemmas of the 2st Century: Between the Liberal-Democratic Tradition and True Participation

By Daniel Rafuls Pineda

We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith; where the commitment to economic and social justice is realized more fully; where institutions are answerable to those they serve; and where civil society is independent and allowed to flourish.
Secretary of State John Kerry, at the re-opening of the US Embassy in Havana, August 14, 2015

How can a country like Cuba, classified among the authoritarian states in the fourth and lowest group on the Democracy Index1, also figure among the top countries on the Human Development Index (HDI)2, outranking nations such as Kuwait, Lithuania, Croatia, and Argentina? This appears to be a contradiction, as if a guarantee of liberties and civil and political rights, on the one hand, could be inversely proportional to advances in health, education, and obtaining wealth on the other.

Likewise, it could appear difficult to understand how Cuba, the country which devotes the most resources in the world to education3 and is among those with the highest number of doctors per capital4 and those offering the most health and education aid to other nations,5 as well as having one of the most qualified workforces in the underdeveloped world,6 would at the same time be the one to devote the least effort to defending the values of liberal democracy – as if social spending and solidarity had no link at all with competition between political parties.

The answers to these questions, in spite of what simplistic logic might assume, are not tied to some hidden source of financing that facilitates such spending, nor to some kind of ideological intransigence that exempts us from the effects of material conditions. Rather, a minimally objective analysis of our national experience will demonstrate what are the historical antecedents on which the current Cuban democratic project is built, which of its principles of electoral organization reflect our best virtues, and which of them need to be reformed.

A brief constitutional history

The initial practical underpinnings of the political process that began in 1959 can be traced back to the period of our Independence Wars against Spain. After the colonizers’ departure, Cuban political and legislative aspirations were not crowned with the approval of a truly independent constitution. Rather, the new “Magna Carta” approved in 1901, which came to be seen as a liberal and presidential-centered document, was written not only in the midst of the US military occupation (1898-1902) but under pressure of the US Congress that openly required the Cuban constitutional assembly to include what became known as the Platt Amendment7 — a legal mechanism which the dominant forces in the US would use to guarantee their control over our nascent political structures and to take over our economy.

This first constitution of the new republic followed the patterns developed by the French and North American revolutions, designing a political system with a bicameral legislature (House of Representatives and Senate), an executive branch led by the President of the Republic assisted by his secretaries or ministers, and a formally independent judiciary whose highest body was the Supreme Court of Justice.

But the most important document in Cuban constitutional history before the late 1950s was, without a doubt, the constitution of 1940, written in a context in which the elites in power needed to make concessions to popular forces so as to avoid another “revolution of ’30.”8 Although its legal structure maintained the traditional division of powers, for the first time there was also a link between individual and social rights,9 unprecedented in comparison with the earlier Cuban constitutional documents or those of other nations. Further, while the legislative branch remained bicameral, it gained additional authority in its relations with the executive, weakening the presidency and strengthening what came to be called a “semi-parliamentary” system.

In our country, as well as in the rest of the Western world until today, the system of political parties was also preponderant as the central nucleus of the electoral system. This model of political participation emerged in the first years of the past century in its two-party variant, dividing the political spectrum into Liberals and Conservatives. From 1940 on, it took the form of two large multiparty coalitions, one of whose main blocs (including communists) advanced a demonstrated ultraconservative, Fulgencio Batista, to the Presidency. None of these formulas, however, made the majority of Cubans happy.

There are endless examples of the various Cuban administrations’ servility to national oligarchs and especially to the large North American monopolies10 that shaped the country’s subsequent legislation. These were years of constant electoral fraud, permanent political persecutions and assassinations, embezzlement of public funds, as well as illiteracy, poor health, and poverty11 in the midst of high levels of underdevelopment and external economic and cultural dependence. These problems could not be resolved by the multiparty political structures nor by the tutelage of a wide variety of US ambassadors, supposedly expert in the mechanisms of democracy. In fact, the problems grew worse.

One of the best expressions of the unreliability of that democratic-liberal Republic was coup d’état of March 10, 1952, led by Fulgencio Batista against then-president Carlos Prio Socorrás (representing the Auténtico Party). Though sometimes viewed only as an illegal armed action to prevent the imminent electoral triumph of the Ortodoxo Party, the coup also acted against the constitutional order of a fully constituted capitalist state and the myth that an independent civil society can flourish under liberal democracy.

The advanced constitution of 1940 that legalized the right to form political organizations and condemned any act prohibiting the citizenry from participating the country’s political life, at the same time did not guarantee the equal right of every citizen to vote and be voted for.

Beyond the high levels of abstention that accompanied most elections and the patronage jobs and perks handed out to voters to get them to opt for one or another candidate, it is also a fact that the nominations to occupy the posts of popular representation, and the individuals finally elected to those posts, had nothing to do with the common citizen. Rather, these selections were made by the political parties, primarily to advance the interests of their leaders, without any open and deep consultation with their bases; these party leaderships emerged, essentially, with the financing of the hegemonic centers of economic power,

Likewise, the recognition of private property as the natural right and basic proclaimed characteristic of every democratic state did not mean the equal right of every citizen to become a proprietor and, in conditions of loyal, honest, and equitable competition, to become (at the least) a member of the middle class. Rather, it meant the right of the rich – large latifundistas (landowners) and impresarios of industry, services, and commerce – to impose their will on the poorest by way of multiple legal and illegal subterfuges, not only in the economic sphere but also in the political and even cultural ones.

In another important realm, freedom of expression, press, and association, while formally proclaimed throughout the history of liberal democratic theory, did not mean that all citizens had equal opportunities to publish a periodical that would represent and defend their interests, or have access to writing in one. There was no guarantee that all could express or organize themselves from the political point of view without encountering persecution or exclusion as a result. The truth was that even when it was possible to criticize capitalism, have some kind of access to the press, or belong to a given political party, the structures of executive, legislative, and judicial power did not provide any political spaces except those that favored, above all, the national and foreign oligarchy.

This is why, after 1959, beyond particular ideologies or political inclinations, we found that we had to devote the greatest efforts and resources to saving the country economically and militarily and, consequently, had to ally ourselves with the USSR and other socialist countries of Eastern Europe. That was the only option for making a Revolution that, as it made room to create the Republic “with all, and for the good of all” of which Martí had dreamed, began to overcome the political, social, and cultural ills as well as the levels of dependence we had suffered for more than fifty years of capitalism (and even before, as a colony). These are the most important challenges that we Cubans face in the twenty-first century too, in the new historical conditions of our own time.

Electoral organizing principles of the democratic project

In this context, the Revolution, in order to survive and advance, had no choice but to find its own path toward domestic political participation and representation. This led to the creation, especially from 1976 on, of what is known in general terms as the system of Organs of People’s Power, and, in particular, the electoral system12 which, in spite of its need for continued improvement, stands today for the following general principles:

  • Electoral registration is automatic, free, and fully transparent. To be born in Cuba confers, in and of itself, the right to be a potential voter.
  • A voting age of 16, and a minimum age of 18 to be elected as a National Assembly deputy, assure that there are formal opportunities in which young people can express their points of view, even at the highest level of the Cuban state.
  • Electoral campaigns are ethical in character and materially austere. That is, they are not fed by the endless propagation of candidates’ images, nor by promises of changes that, if they go unfulfilled, expose the candidates to no legal risk. In our model, in contrast to that of liberal democracies in which the candidates go to great lengths to maximize their individual physical and intellectual impressions, political programs deal primarily with the community, which means they must be constructed collectively. The basic principle underlying voters’ choices cannot rest on what the candidates promise to do, but rather on what they have done.
  • Elections are not financed by private businesses or by any political party, but equitably through the resources of the state.
  • Voting is not compulsory, but takes place on Sundays, avoiding the limitation implied by holding elections on workdays. Also, to assure better conditions during the exercise of the vote, there are many polling places set up close to potential voters.13
  • Nomination of candidates at the municipal levels, which is the underpinning of the whole Cuban electoral system, does not occur through the political parties nor through self-nominations that imply (openly or not) the intention to obtain power. Rather, nominations are carried out by neighbors, which also guarantees, by random action and without any institutional intervention, broad social representation.14
  • The structure of the System of People’s Power closest to the grassroots rests in the local election district or “circumscription” (which generally represents between 800 and 1,500 people) and in the so-called people’s councils, which group together several districts. This brings higher levels of state power closer to the electoral base.
  • The process of voting and vote-counting to select municipal delegates is public and transparent. Although the quality and quantity of these processes are not certified by international entities, they are scrutinized and certified by local electoral commissions created for this express purpose. The legitimacy of the results is guaranteed, above all, through open and direct supervision by the people in each district, particularly during the final vote count.
  • The municipal delegates (who, when elected, become members of the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power – AMPP) are not chosen by a simple plurality of votes received, but must win at least 50% of the votes cast, which in turn confers more legitimacy. This explains why sometimes, since up to eight candidates may be nominated, a runoff vote between the two highest vote-getters is required.15
  • Lists of proposed candidates for delegates to the provincial assembly of People’s Power and for deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power are presented by the nominating committees to the municipal assembly for ratification. If the assembly delegates object to a candidate, then the committee removes that candidate and adds another one from its list of approved names. The approved list of candidates is then voted on by the citizens in their places of residence, and each candidate must get at least 50% of the vote to be elected.
  • The great majority of the representatives elected to the various levels of state power (the levels of the municipal assemblies, provincial assemblies, and National Assembly of People’s Power) are not highly-paid professional employees of the People’s Power System, but rather workers who support themselves primarily through their jobs at other state or non-state institutions. Their posts as people’s representatives are not seen as a way to make money and, therefore, a job to be pursued at all costs; rather, taking on these posts represents a deeply altruistic act.
  • Voter participation is high at every level; this confers greater legitimacy on the results and a greater commitment between those elected and the voters.16
  • The assemblies at municipal, provincial, and national levels are highly representative in terms of their political, social, and occupational composition,17 and in their legislation and decisions, depending on each level’s area of authority.
  • Representatives must hold accountability meetings with voters. The sessions are mandatory (every six months for municipal delegates, and at least once per term for provincial delegates and national deputies18), and the representatives may be recalled.

Need for changes in the electoral system

Nonetheless, the system of Organs of People’s Power includes regulations, structures, and mechanisms that function in an essentially centralized manner, some of them overly so. These characteristics may have been justified in a situation of backwardness and political and economic-cultural encirclement, but in the new context of the twenty-first century, with the emergence of both internal and external circumstances less unfavorable to the development of our political project, it is clear that important changes must be made in basic components of the Cuban state, particularly its electoral system. Therefore it seems opportune to re-evaluate the following basic aspects:.

Forms and mechanisms of nomination for public office

Direct nomination of candidates to the Municipal Assembly at the district level should be maintained, as well as the role of the nominating committees at the various levels. However, in the process of indirect nomination of the candidates for the posts of provincial delegates and national deputies, as well as the presidents and vice-presidents of the corresponding bodies of state power and the members and president of the Council of State, conditions should be created such that:

  • The people, through neighborhood meetings, can directly put forward their own proposed candidates for provincial delegates and national deputies. As things stand today, aside from the nominations ratified by municipal delegates formulated by the nominating committees, there are no formal opportunities for other levels or bodies to nominate individuals for the posts of popular representatives in the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly. The result is a constriction of the expression and exercise of citizens’ political will.
  • Proposals made by the nominating committees for posts as representatives or officials in the three levels of assemblies should not depend primarily on private discussions with the members of those organs of state power and other bodies. Rather, they should depend on plenary discussions in those same assemblies – discussions that, with the greatest possible transparency, publicly present the widest range of preferences. If this is not done, the nominating committees, which should be mere auxiliary instruments, instead maintain the real power to arrange nominations in based on their own inclinations.
  • The naming of candidates for provincial delegates and national deputies who come from state institutions and political organizations, as well as from mass organizations, social organizations, and civil society in general, should result not from ad hoc considerations but rather from deeply democratic national plenary discussions within those organizations, of which each one puts forward, from the grassroots level, its best representatives.
  • Municipal delegates, with the support of their respective nominating committees, should nominate, from among prominent local residents, 100% of the municipality’s candidates for the National Assembly. Currently, a not-insignificant share of the National Assembly members representing municipalities outside Havana reside either in the capital itself or in areas quite distant from the population they represent. This limits and even obstructs their roles as people’s representatives.
  • Nominations of candidates for the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly, even as they continue to be representative of the most varied sectors of civil society and the state, should guarantee that at least half of the delegates and deputies be municipal assembly Currently, only 220 of the 612 deputies (35.9%) are district delegates,19 which does not support the principle that our entire electoral system is based on elections held at the grassroots level.

Competition among nominees for public office (public responsibilities)

The principle that there should be at least two candidates among whom voters can choose in the election of municipal assembly delegates (Article 82) should be preserved. So should the stipulation that nominations for the positions of President, First vice-president, secretary, and other members of the Council of State should continue to be draw upon the total pool of National Assembly deputies (Article 143); considering that there are currently 612 members of the parliament, this offers a wide spectrum of potential candidates. In addition, the following should be considered:

  • Elections for each seat in the provincial assemblies and National Assembly, for their respective presidents and vice-presidents, and for members of the Council of State and its various offices (including that of President) should also be contested by more than one candidate, which must be guaranteed by the nominating committee of the respective level.
  • Elections for representative positions in which the candidates are not well-known should be preceded by a process in which each competing candidate can utilize important spaces to forward his or her vision of the political system in general and the system of People’s Power in particular, as well as the manner in which he or she plans to address – without demagogy – the community’s problems. Thus, in addition to the brief summary biographies of the candidates for delegates and deputies that are now distributed, and to the public presentations they now make, there is a need to seek and develop other mechanisms to make the qualities of the potential representative more visible, so that voters know, in more detail, for whom they are voting.

Which posts should be, in general, elective?

Although many people now believe that the conditions exist to directly elect the members of the Council of State, the council’s President and First Vice-president, the members of the Council of Ministers and its executive committee – and also that the directors of all Institutes and Councils, the K-12 school system, the university system, and state enterprise system can be elected by those within the sectors these officials administer – such a sweeping proposal would involve some very complex difficulties.20 However, it does seem that the moment has arrived to begin to elect, through some appropriate procedure, the following:

  • The members of the Electoral Commissions that organize and validate the entire process, and of the nominating committees that organize the nominations. Also, beyond the CTC [Cuban Workers Federation], CDR [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, block organizations], FMC [Cuban Women’s Federation], and other well-known social and mass organizations, it is important to broaden the collective organizations taking part in the nominating committees. These should also have significant social recognition and be the object of sectoral public scrutiny organized from their respective bases.
  • The members of the People’s Councils who are not municipal delegates. Unlike what is established by Article 8 of Law 91 (of the year 2000) governing People’s Councils, the representatives of mass organizations, which are the most important institutions and entities within the districts, should not be named by their leaders but elected from the base.

Term limits

Taking as a given the necessary improvements in composition and activity of the nominating committees, additional changes should:

  • Limit certain public and state posts to two terms (one reelection) of five years each. Any later decision to extend such responsibilities, after contesting the post with other nominees, should be an exception ratified by a popular referendum; this includes any possibility of reelecting the President for more than two terms. This will avoid the possibility of decision-making responsibility being limited to an elite.
  • Limit the period of service of provincial delegates and national deputies who do not have executive positions in these structures of the state to two consecutive terms, and permit them one new nomination thereafter, after at least one term has gone by, for their possible reelection by direct popular vote. No elected representative at those levels, independent of the executive positions held, would be able to be reelected for more than four terms.
  • Prohibit provincial delegates or national deputies who have also been elected as municipal delegates from continuing as representatives at the higher level if they have lost their positions as municipal delegates by failing to run, or by having lost, in the most recent district elections.

The accountability processes

The presidents and vice-presidents of the People’s Power Assemblies at the various levels, as well as the President and First Vice-president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, unlike other representatives chosen by the people, are under permanent public scrutiny that is reflected especially when they preside over the meetings of their respective state entities and when the communications and information media follow their daily activity. Still, it seems appropriate, in addition, to do the following: To create the necessary conditions and mechanisms so that all state representatives as well as those from civil society (from party institutions and from mass and social organizations ranging from the best-known to the less important ones) elected at the various levels of People’s Power, shall render account of their performance not only to the municipal assembly which officially nominated them, but also to the sectoral organization or local that originally proposed them and finally elected them.

The recall process

Despite the possibility afforded by Law No. 89 (of 1999) to recall delegates to the municipal and provincial assemblies and deputies to the National Assembly as well as members of the Council of State and those occupying the positions of president and vice-presidents at all such levels, by means of the existing components of the Organs of People’s Power, an additional guarantee is needed. The populace should be able to directly recall not only base-level delegates, but all its other elected representatives, up to and including the President of the Council of State. This is not only an additional and authentic means to recognize that sovereignty resides in the people, but also one of the most incontrovertible proofs of true political participation in a project that promotes the values of socialism.

Some final words

Given the political and constitutional history of Cuba described above, and the challenges just outlined, there is no reason to accept the advice of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Firstly, because the “genuine democracy” that he proposes to us cannot be measured only through the fact of people being “free to choose their leaders,” “express their ideas” and “practice their faith,” and secondly because the institutions and mechanisms that he recommends to us to solve our problems are not guarantees of “commitment to economic and social justice” nor have they, in many other places, allowed the flowering of any independent civil society.

Myriad examples demonstrate that the First World owes its successes not to fraternal confrontations between political parties, nor to the healthy exercise of civil and political liberties, but rather to subtle or brutal plans of colonization, unequal exchange, and military and cultural invasions of other countries, in which the poor are overwhelmed by the successes of the rich. That is exactly what we Cubans do not want to experience again. Therefore, beyond the reforms we have to make in our political system in general and in our electoral system in particular, the democracy we build and the freedoms we win cannot resemble liberal democracy. At their best, they should continue being attempts to open broader avenues of popular participation in the processes of decision-making.

Translated by Dick Cluster

Notes

1. The Democracy Index (DI) is a development metric created by the The Economist Intelligence Unit in an attempt to rank the degree of democracy in 167 countries. The rankings are derived from 60 indicators in five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, government functioning, political participation, and political culture.

2. Based on the following criteria: life expectancy, literacy rate, years of compulsory education, and “wealth” as measured by GDP per capita. As of 2013, Cuba was tied for 43rd place out of 187 countries.

3. While countries such as the United States, Sweden, and France, for example, devote 7.3%, 6.9%, and 6.4% of their GDP, respectively, to education – percentages generally considered to be high – Cuba devotes about 13% of its GDP. See Lamrani Salim, “Fidel Castro reformador social,” in Rebelión; Granma April 10, 2015.

4. While the figure for Latin America is 160 doctors for every 100,000 inhabitants, in Cuba it is 590 per 100,000. See Salim, “Fidel Castro reformador”; Granma, April 10, 2015, 3.

5. The well-known cooperation project called “Operación Milagro” [Operation Miracle] has provided free ophthalmologic surgery to 3.4 million people in 34 countries. Similarly, more than 51,000 Cuban health practitioners provide services in 67 countries, and in early 2015 at least 250 voluntary specialists in the Henry Reeve Brigade were working in the African regions most affected by the Ebola virus. Another 4,000 Cuban health personnel work in prevention programs in 32 African countries. Further, nine million people have graduated from the “Yo sí puedo” [Yes I Can] literacy program and another 1,113,000 from the follow-up program “Yo sí puedo seguir.” See “Intervención del Ministro de RR.EE de Cuba, el 2 de marzo de 2015, Consejo de Derechos Humanos, Ginebra,” Granma, March 3, 2015.

6. According to recent data, Cuba devotes 4% of its GDP to higher education. It has more than a million university graduates, representing 11.1% of the population and 18.7% of those economically active. See “Graduados Universitarios cubanos superan 10 por ciento de la población” (Prensa Latina), http://www.tiempo21.cu/2015/04/07.

7. This took the form of an amendment added by US Senator Orville Platt to the 1901 budget bill, which finally had to be added to the Cuban constitution. Its provisions included a bar on Cuban administrations’ securing loans without Washington’s approval, and it required the new Cuban government to lease land for a certain number of military bases to the northern neighbor, including the land still occupied by US forces today in the province of Guantanamo. It gave the United States the right to intervene into Cuba’s internal affairs.

8. The Revolution of 1933, which toppled the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado, abolished the Constitution of 1901. In order not to leave the Cuban state without any guiding principles, that constitution was replaced by two constitutional laws, but these did not, in real terms, de-legitimize the authoritarian role played by Fulgencio Batista as the leading figure of a military coup.

9. For instance, it recognized a minimum wage, paid vacations, maternity rights for women workers, and the right of workers and employers to form unions. It established a legal right to demonstrate and form political organizations opposed to the regime, recognized the autonomy of universities, legitimized actions to defend individual rights, and, among other conquests, extended universal suffrage to females. It also recognized the legitimacy of private property in its highest conception as a social function.

10. In 1958, Cuba’s foreign trade was controlled by the United States, which supplied 75% of imports and bought 66% of exports. The economy’s main products – 100% of nickel production and 50% of sugar production – were in North American hands; US firms controlled the best agricultural lands and almost all of the mines. Further, 90% of public services, electricity, and telephone service were the property of US capital, as well as 50% of the railroads. See Francisco López Segrera, “La Revolución Cubana. Propuestas, escenarios y alternativas,” 2010, El Viejo Topo, 24-25, 50-51.

11. In the final years of the 1950s, the number of fully or partially unemployed rose to somewhat more than 25% of the active labor force. Socio-economía cubana antes de 1959, http://www.Secretoscuba.cultureorum.net/t15099. Further, in 1959, there were one million illiterates out of a population of six million.

12. Since October 29, 1992, the system has been governed by Electoral Law No. 72, which replaced Law No. 37 of August 15, 1982.

13. In the base-level elections of April 2015, there were 24,646 polling places, each open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and serving an average of 348 voters each. Granma, April 18, 2015, 5.

14. For instance, of the 27,379 base-level candidates nominated by neighborhood residents during the most recent Municipal Assembly elections in April 2015, 9,815 candidates were women (35.8% of the total), 5,448 were young people (20%), and 11,663 were black or mixed-race (42.6%). By educational level, 49.1% were high school graduates, 10.6% had completed junior high, and only 0.4% had only six-grade educations. In terms of economic sectors, 71.3% of the candidates were affiliated with the trade unions of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba [Cuban Workers Federation], 8.2% with the Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños [the small farmers’ federation], and 2.7% worked in the non-state sector [primarily the urban self-employed]. Granma, April 18, 2015, 5.

15. On April 26, 2015, for instance, more than 1,200,000 voters were called to the polls (and 941,041 voted) for a second round to finish choosing the delegates of 1,166 districts. Trabajadores, April 27, 2015, 1.

16. In April 2015, the participation rate in district elections was slightly above 88.3%. (Granma, April 21, 2015, 1). In the February 3, 2013 elections for deputies to the National Assembly and delegates to the provincial assemblies for the period 2013-2018, 90.9% of eligible voters participated. (Granma, February 8, 2013, 3.)

17. Some illustrative data from the term beginning in April 2015 are as follows: Of the 12,589 district delegates, 35.0% are women and 15.4% are youth. By skin color, 58.6% are white, 16.9% black, and 24.5% mixed race. In occupational terms, 32% work in production or services, 4.8% are small farmers, 2% are members of cooperatives, 2.5% work in non-state sectors, 1.1% are members of the armed forces, 3.3% are members of the Ministry of the Interior, and 0.9% work in culture; other categories include 4.8% retirees and 2.5% housewives. Many are members of the respective mass organizations, while 58% are members of the Cuban Community Party and 6% of the Union of Young Communists. Granma, June 4, 2015, 1. The National Assembly is made up of 48.9% women, 37.1% non-whites, and 82.6% university graduates. The new Council of State (the thirty-one-member body that presides between sessions of the National Assembly) shows 54.8% turnover from the previous one, with the presence of thirteen women and twelve nonwhites. The 8th National Assembly (elected for the period 2013-2018) shows a 67% turnover from the previous one (2008-2013). Parlamento de Cuba con el reto de la actualización socio-económica, http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/alba/137058.

18. [Ed. note: Provincial delegates and national deputies report not to the voters but to the municipal assemblies of the municipalities from which they were elected.]

19. Granma, June 4, 2015, 1. Other data reveal important differences among provinces. For instance, of the 31 National Assembly candidates nominated in late 2012 for the province of Guantánamo and elected as deputies in February, 2013, 48.4% were base-level delegates, while only 24% of those representing Mayabeque were (Granma, December 22, 26, and 29, 2012).

20. There are many often-positive international experiences involving periodic elections for administrative or leadership positions not directly tied to popular representative bodies, but the historical tradition of direct elections in which base-level voters cast the final votes for local, provincial, or national state offices – and, above all, for presidents and legislators at the national level – has failed to resolve the essential issue of who does the nominating. Generally this is done by political parties and especially by their leaderships, which (as is also the case with the nominating committees) brings inevitable levels of subjectivity. In the cases of the presidential system in the United States and of parliamentary systems in general, the resolution has involved indirect elections, which merely evade the real complexities of achieving true justice through direct nominations made by the populace and hide the problem of who holds real power; thus direct election to these offices is turned into a myth, for which reason there is no sense in trying to apply these models to Cuba.

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