Letter: Free elections in Cuba… organized by the United States

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Dear Sir:

One of the aspects that Mr Trump has specifically pointed out in relation to Cuba, in order to improve relations between both countries, is that free elections are held in our country.

Obviously, the tenant of the White House and his followers consider that the current electoral system in Cuba does not have the characteristics to be able to determine that it offers equal possibilities to all citizens to be nominated to the different positions that will be elected and, above all, that citizens who have reached the corresponding age can exercise the right to vote.

What would happen if the United States had the opportunity to organize elections in Cuba?

In order to evaluate that possibility, we will go to the story, which Mr Trump totally ignores.

The first elections held in Cuba after the end of Spain’s dominion over the island were organized by the United States. Let’s see how everything was organized so that these elections had the requirements of a “free election” and that the president was a person that, without any doubt, would represent the feelings of the Cuban people.

This article from the Latvia Gaspe Álvarez, MSc, historian and specialist in the history of the municipalities of Cuba, author of the book “The Colony in the Foundations of the Republic 1899-1908“, shows us the roots of US style “free elections”.

A lesson in electoral democracy that the United States gave to Cuba

Latvia Gaspe Álvarez MSc

The United States since its first intervention in Cuba, in 1899, made evident the utilitarian and arbitrary nature that it grants to what they call “free elections”, the fundamental basis of the system that they also capriciously call “representative democracy”, which it preaches as an example for the world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, once they decided to try a new form of colonial domination in our territory, they carried out several municipal electoral processes that demonstrated the imperial will that only a small part of the country’s population participate in the selection process of the members of the neocolonial state and that the most important positions of this state, will be in the hands of the most conservative sectors of the Cuban bourgeoisie, which had supported their interference.

At a time when the country, militarily occupied by the foreign army, had no civil institutions to face the process of assembling the republican state, municipal elections became the primary link to articulate the political-electoral chain. They defined the first Cuban officials, called to preside, organize and ensure the proper development of the remaining elective processes envisaged in the period, such as: the selection of delegates who were to prepare the Constitution of 1901, define the relationships that they had to exist between Cuba and the United States and the direct or indirect election, once the Magna Carta was approved, by the authorities of the other government apparatuses, which included the President of the Republic himself.

That is why, in the two municipal electoral processes that took place in this period, it was where the US comptroller put into practice the legal mechanisms to restrict popular participation and guarantee the inclusion in the political life of the country of the conservative elements that had few possibilities of triumph and that officially distinguished with the qualifier of “minority”.

The first elections of municipal officials were held in June 1900 and were regulated by Military Order No.164 of April 18, 1900. A prestigious researcher of this period told that, although the military governor himself, Leonardo Wood, appointed a commission to establish the requirements of this electoral fair, in the final decisions he openly ignored the opinion of the majority of the commissioners who advocated that universal suffrage be put into practice in Cuba.

The requirements established by the US intervention to be able to vote in the first Cuban municipal elections were:

• Being a man, born in Cuba or born to a native of Cuba born during the temporary residence of his parents abroad, or Spanish, who had not declared his desire to remain so;

• Be at least 21 years old;

• Reside in the municipality where he was to vote, at least 30 consecutive days;

• Fulfill any of the following conditions: know how to read and write, or possess real and personal property worth 250 pesos of the United States, or have served in the Cuban Army prior to July 18, 1898, and have graduated “without an unfavorable note”;

These conditions denied the right to vote to a large part of the Cuban population, women in their entirety and men of the black race, who had not served in the Cuban Army, most of whom did not have a capital such as required, nor could they read and write.

If we take for certain the statistical data of those that in our country exercised the vote in those elections, a total of 110,816 men and that there were 777,416 people who were 21 years old and older, we conclude that the electoral restrictions determined that only 14% of the inhabitants of the country exercised the right to vote. This meant that the highest representative of American democracy, Leonardo Wood, marginalized 86% of the population living in the territory with the required age, within which were all women and 61% of men, especially those of the black race.

But, why did the US military government decide just one year later – 1901 – to carry out another municipal electoral process?

The restrictions on the vote did not conceal a reality. Even with 14% of the population, the result of these first elections showed the majority independence feeling, affirmed in a town that had emerged from an exalting process of struggles for its sovereignty. The majority of the mayors of the country were selected from the independence forces; it was therefore necessary to try new measures that would allow the results to be distorted.

Although at first sight, Military Order No. 91 of April 8, 1901, that regulated the second municipal electoral process, seems to be traced back to the previous one, the new provision showed a difference that guaranteed the entry of the elements society’s most conservative positions in the state. This order added to the previous one a paragraph so that “the minority” was guaranteed, at least, 40% of the political space in Cuba.

The foreign authorities then established a limited voting system, according to which, taking into account the number of councilors to be elected in a municipality, the electors only had the right to vote for part of them, leaving the rest to the excluded forces, the famous “minorities.

This section was kept alive and was perfected in the electoral laws that were followed in the first decades of the republic – in which the United States was always involved through the well-known official Enoch H. Crowder – and was also a valuable instrument to that the conservative “minority” clung to our country, to take over almost half of the political sphere of a society, which was always openly adverse to it.

An analysis of the lists of mayors elected in the electoral elections of 1900 and 1901 reveals that this requirement caused that in the second municipal elections a good amount of them be removed from their posts, according to the required percentage by the American law.

The manipulations that the US authorities did to the Cuban electoral processes of the stage did not remain in the legal sphere. To delve into the documents treasured by the National Archive of Cuba, especially in those related to the denunciations that were made of the elections of the stage, confirms that in these were common complaints about: the rejection of people that in spite of fulfilling the requirements demanded by the law, they were not allowed to register in the electoral register; the concealment of voter lists; the non-authorization of representatives of important political groupings of the localities to integrate the polling stations; the coercion to the voters in the voting; the denial to the veterans of the independence wars to participate despite presenting certificates signed by important figures and changing the names of the voters in the registration lists, among others.

As can be seen, the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century only allowed approximately 5% of the Cuban population to endorse the 1901 Constitution and directly or indirectly select the main authorities of the Republic, which it finally placed in the hands of its favorite presidential candidate: Tomás Estrada Palma.

Is this the democracy they want to impose again in Cuba?

I believe that this article by Latvia Gaspe allows us to know all the electoral frauds that the United States used to occupy the presidency of Cuba, Don Tomas Estrada Palma, the candidate they had already selected before the elections were held.

Participation in those elections, rigged by the United States and its followers, brings to mind the way in which elections are currently taking place in the United States. There is not much change, perhaps a bit of updating in the methods, but the same purposes are maintained, that the people have limitations to express their true wishes, for that reason neither those, nor those that are now taking place in American lands, can qualify as “free elections”, nor that they are the basis of a “representative democracy” that does not exist. What exists is a plutocracy.

Dr Néstor García Iturbe

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22 COMMENTS

  1. What does what happened over 100 years ago have to do with the Cuba and the U.S. of today. This article makes no sense whatsoever. All President Trump is asking Cuba to do (without U.S. interference) is to hold a free and open election, where anyone who wants to run for political office can do so without the fear of being put in jail for defying the existing government. How much more simple can you get.

    • What Dr Néstor García Iturbe and other Cuban political elites fear most of all with free elections is that they will be thrown out of office and then charge with crimes against humanity.

  2. Richard Charron;
    Perhaps you overlook a current phenomenon in Georgia, where over 53,000 people of colour were not able to participate in the current election.
    Things have NOT changed one iota, in the Plutocratic activities’ of the (free?) American voting system.

    Don Dallimore, from Northern Canada

    • The people were not all of color, except in the way the MSM reported it. The problem was that their identification did not match their registrations. You fail to mention that they were ultimately allowed to vote. Are you suggesting that people should be allowed to vote with no proof whatsoever that they are even citizens? I’ll bet you are.

  3. R. Charron;
    What happened over 100 years ago CERTAINLY DOES carry on in the plutocratic, USA Election System!
    Perhaps you didn’t notice the (constant wrongdoing-example of voting restrictions)’, in the US State of Georgia, during the current Mid-Term Election.
    Over 53,000 people of colour, were obstructed in their opportunity to vote, by US Government officials.
    USA FREEDOM, Personified!
    Totally laughable to observers’, when the word ‘FREE’ and ‘US GOVERNMENT’, are mentioned in the same sentence.
    You are forgetting that you cannot HIDE these things, when the www. is watching EVERY NEFARIOUS ACT, LIVE, and in living colour, on the internet, my friend.
    Don, from Northern Canada.

  4. R. Charron;
    What happened over 100 years ago CERTAINLY DOES carry on in the plutocratic, USA Election System!
    Perhaps you didn’t notice the (constant wrongdoing-example of voting restrictions)’, in the US State of Georgia, during the current Mid-Term Election.
    Over 53,000 people of colour, were obstructed in their opportunity to vote, by US Government officials.
    USA FREEDOM, Personified!
    Totally laughable to observers’, when the word ‘FREE’ and ‘US GOVERNMENT’, are mentioned in the same sentence.
    You are forgetting that you cannot HIDE these things, when the www. is watching EVERY NEFARIOUS ACT, LIVE, and in living colour, on the internet, my friend.
    Don, from Northern Canada.

  5. Never heard such rubbish from a man who has a doctorate. Fair and free elections have nothing to do with what happened a hundred years ago, even what happened ten years ago. Free and fair elections are what is deemed today by the UN agencies and other observers as free and fair, not what the Americans or even the Cubans decide is free and fair.

    The real problem is Cuba is a rubbish state supported by rubbish rulers from the Americas and the Caribbean, like for instance, Dr. Ralph E Gonsalves another with a doctorate who talks rubbish. Such persons seek to change their own countries into part of the Cuban model, even to become part of the Cuban empire. One party states with the state wealth resting in the hands of family dynasties wherever they can create them.

    Even countries such as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines do not have free and fair elections with all the vote rigging and election bribery that goes on there. SVG is a place where the poor have gotten poorer whilst the family dynasty members have gotten richer and richer. They are net supporters of Cuba, Marxist-Leninism and communism. The ULP was even helped in the elections by the Russians with the same tactics they used in the US elections to destroy Hilary Clinton. The NDP suffered at the hands of the Russians administered and led by a member of the dynasty.

  6. G.T.
    Did your observant abilities happen to read the UN report (on the actual United Nations Site) of the presentations submitted by the MAJORITY of UN Membership countries, save two countries, the USA and their constant Lapdog, ISRAEL, regarding voting to remove the incongruous Blockade of Cuba, by the Nefarious US Government, for the last TWENTY-SIX YEARS.
    Perhaps you should, G.T.
    There are ten pages of comments, all stressing the fact that Cuban Citizens’ have been hindered in the development of their country, BUT, have managed to go to the aid of a great number of Countries that had suffered major Catastrophes, even though the Cubans could scarce afford to do so.

    Take the USA’s Colony of Puerto Rico, for instance. Look how long it took the USA to send ANY AID to their OWN ISLAND, which still today, is suffering from lack of electric power, food, bridges, fresh water, repaired roads, etc. As an American Citizen, you must be very proud of your government’s prompt, efficient assistance!

    Guess who was there to assist them, almost before the wind and rain from the hurricane, had died down! It was none other than the country and citizens’ which you have labelled ‘RUBBISH’.

    The only rubbish on this site is YOUR thought process and your Nasty, Dissident Centric, American- Government-Based. Niki Halley generated, Rhetoric.
    SHAME!

    • U.S. aid in Puerto Rico was woefully misreported. PR was the cause of it’s own miserable recovery. Had they not stolen and or misspent the money allocated to upgrading their energy infrastructure the recovery would have been accomplished in a fraction of the time. No less help was provided per capita for PR than for any other area of the continental U.S. for hurricane damage. You spend far too much of your time addictively swallowing the garbage spewed by the MSM with the help of Trump hating PR government who cause their own problems and needed someone to blame. In my opinion PR should be cut loose and allowed to Cubanize themselves. Just what the world needs, another failed state. As to the veracity of the U.N. that is a whole other subject upon which a book could be written. I personally would love to see the U.S. drop out of and have them move their headquarters to perhaps Cuba. It would be a much nicer climate for these “dignitaries” to play in. Much less expensive also.

    • If the people of Puerto Rico wanted to end their colonial oppression, they could do so in a heartbeat. That they they never, ever do so speaks volumes for their love of the status quo.

  7. R. C.
    Energy dispersion and repair, was only ONE segment of the USA’s Government miss-handling of the rebuilding of their colony.
    As I stated previously, the Road networks, Bridges, Fresh water provision, the Non-Supply of rebuilding materials, Food, were ALL lacking, in spades.

    Twist the subject as you may, R. C., all fingers of irresponsibility point to the United States Government’s lack of concern for its own citizens’.
    No wonder there is such a large political movement in Puerto Rico, to rid itself of a huge political anchor, the US Government Control of this island.
    More power to P.R. Citizens’ in this regard.

    Don D. from Northern Canada

    • The corrupt, greedly, and incompetent Puerto Rican government was responsible for ignoring the decay of an infrastructure waiting to fall apart with the slightest storm.

  8. I’m with the “large political movement in Puerto Rico to rid itself of a huge political anchor”. I wish they would hurry up and do it. We certainly don’t need this ungrateful liability. They should join hands with your other hero Cuba. Wouldn’t they make a great pair. LOL. You can rest assured if they wanted to have their independence, President Trump would not offer any resistance.

    • Richard G.
      Do you not realize how many corrupt US Corporations use the Island as a base for their Totally Illegal Operations? The rest of the world’s citizens know this and are all laughing behind your backs.
      Perhaps then you will realize why the US Government is not interested in letting Puerto Rico separate itself from American Domination.

      As a matter of fact Richard, P.R. and Cuba would make a great pair if P. R. wanted to prosper at the same rate that the future holds for Cuba, with Diaz-Canel at the helm.

      Trump’s Fantasies, Blockades, Extraterritorial Sanctions etc., will soon become history as the reality that the rest of the world is slowly changing to their OWN currencies for payment of oil etc. This will curtail the use of ONLY the US$ being the acceptable payment for oil.
      The Chinese Yuan is quickly rising to the fore as a creditable world currency because they, (China, Russia, India and Iran) have the gold to back their currencies. THE USA DOES NOT, hence investment is going to the aforementioned countries, instead of investing in US Federal Reserve Notes
      Keep in mind, the US Federal Reserve Bank, finances the US National Debt, and collects the interest on this GIGANTIC LOAN, as well.
      As payments for US Petro-Dollars dwindle, the ability to FINANCE the UNENDING WARS and REGIME-CHANGE ACTIVITIES, of the US Government, all around the world, will come to a GREAT SCREECHING HALT!
      I don’t understand how the US Citizens’ can afford the upkeep, maintenance, etc., of the current 800-plus US military/naval bases / jails etc., placed all over the world right now.
      It would be nice if SOME of these TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS could be spent on American Healthcare, Schooling etc., wouldn’t it?
      Reality is a bitch WHEN YOU GET TO REALIZE WHAT YOUR MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS REALLY DOING WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS, American Citizens’!
      Don D.

      • New Nation Cuba Rico. I love the sound. Let it happen and soon please. The price of oil has fallen 15 straight days BTW as a result of Trump’s Energy Policies finally taking effect and the fact that the U.S. is now one of the biggest producers if not the biggest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. As to your “military industrial complex” this is not Trump’s doing and given the next 6 years I hope we will see this reigned in some.

  9. Don D.
    I am afraid you make too much sense to be understood by the lapdogs and US stooges that populate this site.

    So, Cuba is supposed to have ‘free and fair’ elections and restore all civil liberties while it is under a vicious blockade and constant campaigns of destabilization (including attempted invasions, assassinations, funding of terrorist activities) by the largest military on earth, just 90 miles away.

    In 1941, the USA was ‘attacked’ 7,000 miles away in the pacific by a developing country with an economy one thirtieth the size of its own and it responded by suspending civil liberties and locking up people who looked wrong in concentration camps.

    Go figure!

    Everyone with a brain knows that the US plutocrats (who moan about elections abroad but CANNOT EVEN GIVE THEIR PEOPLE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE AT HOME) care not a fig for ‘freedom’ or human rights, but rather see open political processes as an opportunity to interfere and subjugate less developed societies and then steal their resources.

  10. Thanks A. A.
    The trillions of dollars the US Military/Industrial Complex and the US Banks’ waste on wars etc., could definitely be put to much better utilization for its OWN CITIZENS, I’m sure.
    Until the Average Joe, comprehends what their government REALLY INVOLVES ITSELF IN, AROUND THE WORLD, things will NEVER CHANGE!
    Don D.

  11. Recent elections in parts of Florida have been a complete farce; candidates are still arguing about the results a week later. Voting at polling stations in Cuba is totally secret; no-one can find out if you have voted for the official slate of candidates, or for some of them, or none (blank ballot). All results are published. Candidates favouring a return of Cuba to the status of a US puppet regime that it endured 1902 – 1959, have stood in a number of recent elections; none were elected.

  12. Wilson Kemp
    As far as a democratic program for voting goes, the Cuban Government has set the standard for openness and fairness, as a model to the rest of the world.

    Check on the enthusiastic reception of Miguel Diaz Canel, in EVERY COUNTRY that he visited, during his recent world-wide tour.
    Add this expression of friendship to the recent huge triumph for Cuba (again), at the United Nations vote to disperse with the obnoxious, useless, United States Blockade of Cuba, which causes immense hardship to Cuba and its citizenry.

    Notice that the USA’s Extraterritorial Sanctions’ on various countries’, particularly Iran, are being ignored by more and more world leaders. The EU, UK, France and Germany, come to mind as leaders in this regard.
    The United States Credibility and Influence around the world is waning at an ever-increasing rate, it seems.

    A Bully ALWAYS gets his comeuppance!
    Mr. Trump and his crew of stalwart warmongers’, the US Military/Industrial/Complex, NATO, IMF, World Bank, Israel, PLUS the US manufacturers of the tools of war, have ALL HAD their ‘kick at the can’, so to speak.
    IT’s TIME TO REIN THEM IN.

    The rest of the world has had enough of their nonsense!

    Don D.

    • Don from Canada, in reply to your rubbish. In Cuba this year a record number of more than 200 people, put themselves forward as “alternative” candidates for local office, contesting the hegemony of the Communist Party. The government put a quick stop to that, as I will later show you. The local elections which are supposed to be more democratic than the presidential elections which are always rigged by the communist party when a pre-chosen president is always elected.

      Cubas semi-democratic local elections are held every two years. Cuba is a state that shares both democratic and authoritarian features which makes it only semi-democratic. The rules are that all Cubans older than 16, except felons and the mentally ill, can run for 12,515 local council seats. But it never works that way with the State and communist Party interference that always happens at the time of these elections.

      The job of those local councillors who are elected is to coax local governments to fix potholes, supply water and the like. The nominees are supposedly only chosen in meetings of their neighbours and fellow local citizens of their neighbourhood, the nominees names appear on paper ballots; then the local citizens decide their choice among the nominees in secret voting. Membership of the Communist Party is not a requirement and there should be no enquiry into the nominee being a party member. That is where the whole thing falls apart, because the Communist Party then does its utmost to influence and even demand who is chosen.

      According to the authoritative views of Manuel Cuesta Morúa, the director of Otro 18 [a different 18].
      Otro 18 is a coalition of Cuban Christians who are classified by the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban Government as dissidents. But in fact Ultra 80 are seeking to stop undemocratic behaviours by the State and Party and try and assure that those chose as candidates for local elections are able to stand as chosen, without the illegal and immoral interference by the State and Party.

      Still the Cuban Communist Party and thence the government found ways to interfere with the local election balloting to keep alternative candidates off the ballot. According to official data, in Cuba there are currently 8.9 million adult citizens. Only 7.9% of them are members of the Communist Party. Just some of the dirty tricks and deceptive actions of the State and Communist Party have been recorded. One aspiring local councillor candidate in Havana received a phone call from someone who claimed to have a package for him from a friend in the United States. When he went to retrieve it, he was greeted by police officers who drove him around in a patrol car until the nomination meeting was over. A railway worker from the city of Holguín, who had been a member of the city’s council for ten years, joined Otro 18 out of frustration with the interference in local elections by the socialist system. Just before Holguín’s nomination deadline he was put under house arrest for allegedly stealing a bag of maize worth 23 pesos (less than a dollar).

      According to Pablo Díaz Espí, director of the online newspaper Diario de Cuba simply the number of alternative candidates, from just two in 2015, to over 200 in 2018 is a sign that the demand for real democracy is spreading. The challengers of State and Communist Party behaviour and actions in the local elections, insist they are not dissidents, they communicate through a network of think-tanks, workers’ organisations, religious groups and youth groups. Mr Diaz at the time said “Everyone knows that these candidates won’t win.” “You play your part in the spectacle to prove that it’s just that—theatre.” Diaz was horrified by the obvious interference by the State and communist party in the selection of candidates in the local elections.

      When Fidel died last year. Miguel Díaz-Canel, the pre-selected vice-president, who went on to succeed Mr Castro, said he would not tolerate municipal mischief-makers. That was an indirect reference to Otro 80, a declaration of war on freedom of selection for local elections. Later in a speech in to Communist party activists Mr Díaz-Canel warned that letting independent candidates win municipal seats would “legitimise the counter-revolution”. So there was a direct instruction for supporters to invent trumped-up charges and long rides in patrol cars.

      You Don from Canada are not a Cuban and have no real information about what happens in Cuba, the most you can do is give a personal opinion without any proof or evidence. Which makes whatever you write or say about any internal matter in Cuba as totally worthless. It’s what the Cuban people themselves say that counts, not silly made up stories that you Don present as fact.

  13. Nancy Jo;
    I wrote a post, explaining my connection to Cuba to counter the last paragraph in your November 14th Post. Caribbean News Now, did not publish it. I posted it on November 15th.

    If you contact them, perhaps they will release it to you. There was nothing of a derogatory nature in the post, just info on where my house was in Cuba and my connection to one of the municipal citizens councilors there.

    I guess the US Government’s fingers reach into Caribbean News Now, more than just a little!

    Take care.
    Don D.

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