Fidel Castro and his gang are going through that regular farce they call free and democratic elections. I don't suppose you've noticed, because it won't change anything whatever about the government of Cuba, and there won't be rioting on the streets. No one in Cuba cares except the propagandists, and no one outside Cuba cares because the media thinks it's far more fun to denounce as fraudulent eclections in certain other countries, where they might well be, or even when they are genuinely democratic but the wrong person wins.
Even a megalomaniac like Fidel can't control everything by himself, so there is a National Assembly made up of delegates from all the regions which notionally has both legislative and executive power. This is Fidel's democratic fig-leaf.*
The candidates are not all overtly Friends of Fidel, though the majority invariably are party members of proven loyalty. In any case, only the Communist Party is allowed to campaign, and any candidate who deviates from the basic message may find they have problems not only getting elected, but also getting work or housing, and is likely to find all kinds of social problems arising around them.
The government dosen't take chances, even after controlling very carefully the selection of all but a small minority of the delegates to the National Assembly. It still retains the power to ignore its decisions and rule directly by decree, which is how most things are done in practice.
We are informed by the electoral commision that over 8m people voted, representing 95% of the electorate, and that turnout was over 92% in every province. We can already begin to smell the rotting fish. These numbers already have the rotten smell of tractor stats.
In a few days another assembly will be formed and the long-suffering Cuban people will have the pleasure of knowing that, not only are they paying for this farse, but they will be told repeatedly that when the assembly rubber-stamps the decrees of the government, it is freely expressing the will of the people, and they will have to accept that that is their will or there will be trouble. Cubans who have escaped say the same as those who were finally released from tyranny in Western Europe used to say, that psychologically one of the worst things for normal people was having to pretend that every act of government repression, designed only to further its own ends and increase its domination, was in fact your will and in your best interests, and having to say this out loud to some apparatchik who knew it was cobblers and who knew that you knew it too.
Anyhow, there have been elections in Cuba, in accordance with its constitution, which we will have a closer look at some day.
*Although tentative comparisons can be made here with the EU Parliament, in the case of the EU the fig-leaf has a real function, in that waving it in the direction of the people really does serve to make the whole thng look a bit more democratic. In the case of Cuba, the rest of the world barely knows it exists, and doesn't care, and the people it is supposed to represent and defend know perfectly well that it is not on their side.
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