Cuba is preparing for its new "partial elections,"in which Cubans will elect those to represent them in the Municipal Assemblies of the People’s Power. This first stage of the electoral process has already been convoked by the Council of State, and will be held on October 22 of this year.
But will we Cubans really choose, or just vote?
Voting is not necessarily choosing, especially when our vote cannot change anything, nor influence the destiny of our country. We Cubans usually go to the polls "to do our part," "not stand out" or "because it's just what you should do."
But the partial elections to determine the delegates to the Municipal Assemblies are the only instrument through which only Cubans not only vote, but actually choose. It is only at this stage of the "electoral process" that we Cubans have the opportunity to directly propose, to the Candidate Nomination Assemblies, those we want to represent us.
And who can represent us as delegates in the Municipal Assemblies of the People's Power?
According to Article 133 of the Constitution: "all Cuban citizens, men and women, who are in full possession of their political rights" have the right to be elected. The 1992 Electoral Law states that one must be over 16 years old, reside in a district of the municipality, and have been nominated.
When can a citizen be deprived of his political rights? Are these rights related to the person's political affiliation?
According to Article 7 of the Electoral Law, a citizen only loses his political rights when he is deprived of his liberty; that is, if he is on any kind of penal parole or probation.
The aforementioned article of the Electoral Law also states that those declared judicially "unfit" may not stand as candidates to the Municipal Assemblies of the People's Power.
None of this has (or should have) to do with political affiliation.
Article 131 of the Constitution states that "every citizen with the corresponding legal capacity has the right to participate in the administration of the State, directly or through his representatives elected to make up the bodies of the People's Power ...".
In fact, one of the features of the "elections" that the island's rulers advance as alleged proof of their democratic superiority is that they are not "partisan." One does not need to belong to any party to aspire to be a representative of the people. The Communist Party of Cuba (the only legal one), is not, technically, involved.
In accordance with the Constitution and the Electoral Law, any citizen, including one who is not a supporter of the Government, may be nominated and elected as a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of the People's Power.
And this is what will be different about the "partials" of October 22: many citizens who do not identify with the Government, some of them even open opponents of it, will seek to occupy positions that allow them to represent their communities, exercising rights recognized by the Constitution and the Electoral Law of 1992.
This is not the first time that citizens not affiliated with the Government or the Communist Party will run in our country's partial elections. There is the precedent, in 2014, of Hidelbrando Chaviano and Yunier López. But this is the first time that the presence of citizens who are not backers of the Government or the Party (pardon the redundancy) will be massive.
They have the right to seek positions that enable them to represent their communities. And we Cubans have the right to vote for them.
As voters we have the right to decide what matters most to us, and what will matter more when electing those who are to tackle the problems our communities face: ideology and loyalty to a party or, as stated in Article 171 of the Electoral Law "... their personal traits, their prestige" and, above all, "their capacity to serve the people."