Since the month of January, when the Council of State called partial elections to elect delegates to the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power in the nation, Cubans have been preparing, in each and every neighbourhood, to directly nominate and vote for those who will represent their rights in their locality.
These elections, in which delegates will be elected to municipal assemblies (local government) for a term of two and a half years, will be held April 19, with the second round on April 26 in those areas where no single candidate obtains more than 50% of the valid votes cast.
As established in the Constitution of the Republic, Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power are obliged to observe and enforce the laws and other general regulations adopted by higher state bodies in their respective territories.
Within their powers, they are responsible for: the supervision and control of those entities subordinated to the municipal government, supported by their working committees; the approval of the municipal social-economic plan and budget, following the policies outlined by the competent bodies of the state’s central administration, and the supervision of their implementation; as well as strengthening legality, law enforcement and the defensive capacity of the country.
Currently in Cuba the most important step of the electoral process – the nomination of candidates – is underway in every neighbourhood, which began on February 24, a historic date marking the re-initiation of Cuba’s War of Independence against Spanish colonial rule.
In a press conference, Alina Balseiro, president of the National Electoral Commission (CEN), explained that this phase followed the installation of 65,999 electoral officials (21.23% are youths) and will conclude on March 25.
Among the supplementary rules, the presence of observers was approved, not international experts as often occurs in other countries, but mainly Cuban students in third through fifth year of their Humanities degrees, who, armed with an observation guide, will accompany and monitor the process.
Over 90% of the electorate has gone to the polls, without being obliged, since 1976, when the electoral system was introduced, reflecting their confidence in the transparency of elections on the island.
This is why Cubans, despite their daily challenges, are again participating in this habitual exercise in democracy. To nominate and elect the most capable, the person who will defend their rights and resources with zeal, is not an event isolated from the current situation in the country, as it is a fundamental element in the development of a community and the nation.
Just as Army General, Raúl Castro Ruz, expressed in 1974, at the close of a seminar for delegates held in Matanzas, “Representative socialist institutions are the expression of the will of the people, through their vote, a means by which the people are not only presented by the State, but in fact form a direct part of that State and directly and systematically participate in its decisions.”