Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cuba’s Politics Won’t Change Fast

The Associated Press reported on Sunday, April 18, that two non-communist party dissidents had
made the opening round of voting for local elections in Cuba for the first time since the passage of the local election law in 1976.

There was brief speculation that it reflected some relaxation in the party’s monopoly approach to power. The candidates themselves cited the U.S. recognition and rapprochement just highlighted by Presidents Obama and Castro in Panama as a reason for their local support.

But by Monday morning, the alleged opening was closed – both candidates were eliminated.

The 24-hour drama provides a cautionary tale about Cuba’s one-party state and its likelihood of maintaining a monopoly on power.
  • Although “independent candidates” are legally protected, they have never, in fact, been allowed and no one has won even the first round of voting in 40 years. As the incident made clear, the state and the party will defend the monopoly.
  • The skepticism of Americans and Cubans that the Obama rapprochement will produce more than a handshake and an embassy in terms of island politics is well-placed. Clearly, at the operational level, the party is making no moves not ordered by the party hierarchy and none have been given. (See blogs: Castro Brothers in Trouble and U.S. vs. Cuba – Finite)
  • Interestingly, a party that has 27,000 candidates to fill 12,600 seats in municipal assemblies that obsesses over two outliers is highly insecure. And, maybe it should be given the recent stealth poll reported by the Washington Post that shows most Cubans would prefer a choice.

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