CUBA BRIEF: Cuba’s expected next president starts to take higher profile

Yesterday, the Cuban regime held municipal “elections” in which no candidate independent from the Communist Party was allowed to run. The Associated Press reported that “the man widely seen as Cuba’s next president delivered a defiant rejection of demands for change in the island’s single-party system as he participated Sunday in the first in a series of elections expected to end with his taking over from Raul Castro next year.”

“First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the voting will deliver a message to the world. “What message? Unity. Conviction. A message that our people don’t bow down, not to a hurricane and even less to external pressure and some people’s desire to see our system change,” the normally laconic Diaz-Canel said in an unusually lengthy series of statements to members of the foreign and state-run press.”  The article says that “the country prohibits campaigning and political platforms.”

The majority of independent candidates that tried to run in the “elections” for the nomination assemblies just concluded failed to attain their goal,” reported Diario de Cuba because “The regime used several mechanisms to block them: “arbitrary detentions, police summons, criminal proceedings, repulse assemblies, and taking over a town with military forces.”

 

The Miami Herald, November 26, 2017

Cuba’s expected next president starts to take higher profile

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Back-dropped by a poster showing the late Fidel Castro, a woman arrives to a polling station to vote for municipal elections in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. The elections were postponed by a month to Nov. 26 after Hurricane Irma devastated part of the island last September.  Ramon Espinosa AP Photo.

 BY MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN  Associated Press The man widely seen as Cuba’s next president delivered a defiant rejection of demands for change in the island’s single-party system as he participated Sunday in the first in a series of elections expected to end with his taking over from Raul Castro next year.  First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the voting will deliver a message to the world.

“What message? Unity. Conviction. A message that our people don’t bow down, not to a hurricane and even less to external pressure and some people’s desire to see our system change,” the normally laconic Diaz-Canel said in an unusually lengthy series of statements to members of the foreign and state-run press.

Diaz-Canel’s message appeared to refer mostly to the Trump administration, which has tightened restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba and stopped issuing visas to Cubans at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The measures have been accompanied by tough talk about the U.S. administration’s desire for change in Cuba, where the Communist Party-led government maintains tight control of virtually every aspect of political and economic life.

Cuba’s electoral process begins with neighborhood meetings to select candidates for municipal councils. Dissidents groups said a record number of their supporters attempted to stand for nomination this year but were thwarted by state security agents who prevented them from attending the meetings, among other tactics. The municipal elections themselves were delayed more than a month by Hurricane Irma, which damaged large swaths of Cuba’s northern coast.

The country prohibits campaigning and political platforms: On Sunday, millions of Cubans turned out for local elections, in which voters in each district chose between two candidates whose bare-bones biographies were posted on the walls of voting stations. Results of the votes are expected to be released Monday.

Sunday’s winners will form a pool of thousands of officials from which commissions will pick candidates for Cuba’s provincial and national assemblies. After votes for those bodies in coming months, the new national assembly will pick the president and other top officials.

Castro, 86, has said he will step down in February, and most observers believe Diaz-Canel, 57, will be selected to succeed him. Castro was shown voting Sunday but made no public statements. Diaz-Canel declined to address the expectations he will take over by February, but spoke for several minutes about the historical significance of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died a year ago Saturday, and the need for Cuban youth to support the country’s socialist system.

Without differing political platforms to choose from, Cuban elections serve in part as gauges of government support, as measured by turnout. Many young Cubans, in particular, say they are disenchanted by the slow pace of reforms to a system that makes it hard to earn a living in the state-run economy and severely limits opportunities for work in the small private sector.

Diaz-Canel was the highest-ranking official at a concert held on the steps of the University of Havana on Saturday night in tribute to Fidel Castro, who died Nov. 25, 2016, at age 90.

He told The Associated Press that he was optimistic about the attitude of Cuban youths toward the system founded by Fidel Castro in 1959 and led by a member of the Castro family for nearly six decades.

“When one sees young people gathering in solidarity in the name of the Cuban people, feeling so much for Fidel, I’m convinced that we’ll see the youth and the Cuban people out defending the revolution at the polls tomorrow,” Diaz-Canel said.

DDC | La Habana | 26 de Noviembre de 2017 – 20:21 CET. | 15

Díaz-Canel: ‘No concibo las rupturas en nuestro país, tiene que haber continuidad’

El vicepresidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel este domingo. (CUBADEBATE/ PRENSA LATINA)

El primer vicepresidente cubano, Miguel Díaz-Canel, apostó este domingo por la “continuidad” del socialismo y la Revolución ante el relevo generacional en el poder que se dará en el país a partir de febrero de 2018, cuando el general Raúl Castro abandone la presidencia.

“Yo no concibo las rupturas en nuestro país, creo que ante todo tiene que haber continuidad. Hay muchas personas muy jóvenes propuestas como delegados”, indicó Díaz-Canel, posible heredero del general Castro, a medios oficiales citados por EFE.

Interrogado por la posibilidad que sea en unos meses el próximo presidente del país, Díaz-Canel eludió pronunciarse al respecto pero apuntó que en el futuro “habrá presidentes en Cuba siempre defendiendo la Revolución y serán compañeros que saldrán del pueblo, los elegirá el pueblo”.

Este domingo el régimen ha organizado sus “votaciones” por los delegados de circunscripción a las que no dejó postularse a ningún candidato opositor y en las que, además, impidió que varios activistas ejercieran su derecho al voto deteniéndolos.

Estos “comicios” marcan el inicio del proceso electoral que culminará con la elección de un nuevo parlamento que deberá ratificar el próximo 24 de febrero de 2018 al nuevo presidente de Cuba, a propuesta del Consejo de Estado, lo que supondrá un recambio generacional en el poder después de casi 60 años.

“Hoy estamos haciendo un voto por la Revolución, la patria y el socialismo”, un voto que enviará “un mensaje a los que quieren hacer cambiar o imponer condiciones de que este es un pueblo que no se va a doblegar, que defendió hace mucho tiempo su soberanía e independencia”, aseveró el primer vicepresidente del país.

Asimismo, Díaz-Canel se refirió a las relaciones con Washington: “Ese futuro no depende de nosotros depende de ellos, depende de la actitud que ellos asuman”, indicó el vicepresidente, que criticó el cambio de postura de la Administración de Donald Trump que “ha recrudecido el bloqueo y ha frenado el camino avanzado” con el Gobierno de Barack Obama.

En los “comicios” de este domingo, de acuerdo con la emisora oficial Radio Habana Cuba, habría votado también el general Raúl Castro en La Habana, a quien este sábado no se le vio en ninguna de las celebraciones oficiales organizadas por todo el país en el primer aniversario de la muerte de Fidel Castro.

Los “comicios” organizados por el régimen están inclinados a su favor. El propio vicepresidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel dijo abiertamente que su Gobierno estaba “dando todos los pasos para desacreditar” a los candidatos independientes porque si llegaban a las Asambleas Municipales “sería una manera de legitimar dentro de nuestra sociedad civil a la contrarrevolución”.

La mayoría de los candidatos independientes que intentaron postularse a las “elecciones” a las recién finalizadas asambleas de nominación de delegados de circunscripción no lograron su cometido. El régimen frustró el empeño mediante varios mecanismos: “detenciones arbitrarias, citaciones policiales, procesos penales, actos de repudio y hasta la toma de un pueblo”.

Incluso, las autoridades llegaron a detener a dos vecinas de un barrio de La Habana que no son activistas ni opositoras, madre de niños pequeños, “para evitar que nominaran” a su vecino José Díaz Silva, un candidato independiente.

“El Gobierno violentó todo el andamiaje legal que sostiene el proceso electoral: la Ley 72, los artículos 131, 132 y 133 de la Constitución, artículos fundamentales de la Ley de Procedimiento Penal que regulan cómo se debe tratar a los ciudadanos. Todo para impedir que los candidatos se nominaran”, condenó en conversación con DDC en pasados días Manuel Cuesta Morúa, portavoz de la plataforma ciudadana #Otro18.

La Comisión de Candidaturas Nacional (CCN) así como las comisiones que se crean a nivel provincial y municipal, funcionan como filtros en estos “comicios” y garantizan al régimen que los delegados de las Asambleas Provinciales, los diputados de la Asamblea Nacional, el Consejo de Estado y su presidente respondan a los intereses del Partido Comunista.

La sucesión en el poder de la Isla parece estar en marcha. Aunque no ha habido hasta ahora ningún anuncio oficial, es previsible que el sucesor de Raúl Castro sea Miguel Díaz-Canel.