Cuba for the first time in nearly 60 years will have a president outside the Castro family. It will mark the end of communist dictatorship and beginning of the electoral system. On Sunday, Cuba designated its National Assembly consisting of 605 members.
The new president will be elected on 19 April, the 57th anniversary of the failed CIA-backed invasion of the Bay of Pigs, known in Cuba as Playa Giron and considered on the island as “the first defeat of Yankee imperialism in Latin America”.
Raul Castro, 86 officially became president in 2008 after two years as interim leader, and following his ailing brother Fidel who had governed since seizing power during the revolution. Fidel died in 2016.
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There would be eight million Cubans that are eligible to vote in the newly designed electoral process. However, one should not mistake it as the introduction of democracy in Cuba. There are 605 seats where the voting will be done and what is most astonishing is the same number of candidates standing for the election! This means there is the only party that is contesting the election, the Communists.
Candidates may be either member of the Cuban Communist Party or not, and may also belong to trade unions or be students.
“Political parties don’t participate. Campaigns are not financed. The designation of candidates is based on merit, abilities and the commitment of the people,” Raul Castro said in 2017.
“Nobody exchanges promises for votes, or boasts of his abilities to get supporters… this is the true and exceptional face of what we proudly call socialist democracy,” the official daily Granma wrote.
The assembly members that are standing for the election are among the list of future Assembly members are the leaders of the Cuban Communist Party including Raul Castro, his first secretary-general, and the historic figures of the revolution. More than half of the candidates, 322, are women.
The president of Cuba will be designated by a 31 member body known as the Council of State, whose head is the automatic choice for the country’s president as there is no second party that he will be contesting with. However, the National Assembly first has to choose the Council of State.