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Yoani Sanchez Headshot

Casting Hopeless Ballots at Fake Polls

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2010-03-05-citacion.jpg
I watch my fellow citizens go to the bodega like automatons, meekly vegetate at work and cast hopeless ballots at the polls. Their lives pass by while they shop for ever shrinking bread rations, collect their symbolic wages which don't stretch far enough for even a bad life, and raise their hands at the meetings to nominate candidates. None of those chosen in the current electoral process will manage to solve the daily problems that weigh upon life in Cuba. Of the candidates my fellow citizens know almost nothing, barely recognizing their photos or their biographies, which are stuffed with "accomplishments" and the almost universal statement that they are "of humble origin." Yet not a single word is devoted to their programs or intentions once they assume their new post.

Curiously almost everyone who comes to be a district delegate is a militant of the Cuban Communist Party and puts their party discipline ahead of their obligations to the voters. They will not represent us against the government, nor be our voice projected to the institutions, but rather will serve as heralds for the bad news coming down from above, transmission channels for regulations and directives decided by a few. In the more than thirty years of their existence, these representatives of the People's Power have not managed to efficiently collect the garbage, coax quality products from the bakeries, or ensure that the sewers are not everywhere overflowing. Nor do they embody the heterogeneity of opinions in our society. They have come to their positions more through proven loyalty than by their ability to manage.

Tonight is the meeting to nominate candidates for the area of concrete blocks where I live. The citation arrived a couple of days ago, meanwhile on TV they are calling for us to choose the best and most capable. I have not one iota of faith, however, in a mechanism that has proven itself unworkable and discriminatory. I would like to raise my hand for the neighbor of strong words and concrete projects who lives across from me, but there are orders to forestall any nomination of a "dissident," including those who may only seem inclined toward change. It is highly likely that the nomination will go to the same delegate who has, for more than ten years, promised us solutions, knowing full well it is not in his hands to deliver them. He is the comfortable candidate of these useless elections, while we are mere figurines who must raise our hands or mark our ballots.