Election are about choices except in Communist countries where you don’t have any. Elections are also about change, but in Communist Cuba, the “change” is about turning over one set of Communist apparatchiks for another.
So, what’s happening in Cuba today as the people go to the polls is not really an “election” in the way that anyone with half a brain understands the word. Like most of what goes on officially in Communist countries, it’s all propaganda.
The long-suffering Cuban people think that this time, things might be a little different. The aging, decrepit 86-year-old Raul Castro says he’s giving up the office of president and the new National Assembly will “choose” his replacement.
Of course, anyone who thinks that the individual chosen by the assembly doesn’t have the blessing and approval of Mr. Castro needs brain surgery. Imagine anyone in the assembly voting for another candidate — he’d be in jail before he got back to his seat.
Leaders of the Cuban exile community in the United States, including Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, have called on President Donald Trump not to recognise the election results, saying the process is a fraud designed to legitimize a dictatorship.
Raul Castro voted with little fanfare at dawn in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains in southeast Cuba, where he had led a group of guerrillas during the revolution.
Castro, who succeeded his brother as president in 2008, is expected to remain at the helm of the powerful Communist Party while First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, is expected to become president.
Diaz-Canel, a party functionary since his youth, would be Cuba’s first modern head of state who was born after the revolution and has no military history.
In central Villa Clara province, where Diaz-Canel grew up and was head of the Communist Party, the candidate and his wife voted alongside local residents, smiling and chatting with them.
He told reporters the election signalled that Cubans wanted to defend their independence, and criticized the Trump administration for undermining a fragile detente established under former U.S. President Barack Obama.
That “detente” was, as with all Obama deals, one sided in favor of the enemy. But Obama had an excuse: Cuba doesn’t make anything we really want (cigars, maybe). Cubans can’t afford to come to the U.S. for vacations, and only aging leftists would really consider a holiday in Havana. In short, Cuba is an economic basket case that benefits from the one-sided deal signed by Obama.
So Mr. Diaz-Canel, who sounds like a typical commie hack, is deliberately chosen because he’s colorless and won’t upstage Raul. If he has one independent thought as president, it will be his last.
Trump was right to reduce our embassy staff and pull back from dramatically improving relations with Cuba. Before that happens, concrete steps must be taken by the government to show they are more than a Communist thugacracy. Releasing the hundreds of political prisoners held in Cuban jails would be a good start. And how about holding a real election with Commies and righties and moderates and even candidates that wear silly hats being allowed to run?
That would be a good start.