Overseas Ballot Boxes

After dinner they stayed at the dining room table to fill out the ballots. He nervous, she more decisive. They worked like crazy, marking them with crosses, while the kids played on the sofa. Those papers received from the Spanish Consulate in Havana smelled new, of fresh ink on a shield of columns and crowns. But the newest thing for the couple was the act itself, choosing from a list of several parties, the action of deciding among different political stripes. Both, who not so long ago had guarded the ballot boxes in their pioneer neckerchiefs, voted for the first time since acquiring the condition of naturalized Spanish citizens. They took the pen with a determination they’d never applied to a national ballot, choosing from a distance because they can not yet do the same where they live.

Millions of Cubans have never heard a political program with the voice a parliamentary candidate. Nor even a preliminary pronouncement from one of them on such timely themes as the dual currency, gay marriage, or the urgent immigration reform. Perhaps it is from this local disappointment that springs the seriousness with which 12,458 of our compatriots asked to participate in the Spanish elections of this November 20. Beneficiaries of the “Law of Grandchildren,” they rehearse with the Atlantic interposed and try to make their mark on another reality, knowing that their own destiny is decided only by a tight circle of higher-ups. Who’s to say that their growing presence in these elections won’t influence the seats and alliances, the smiles and tears that are set to fall tonight in Madrid.

The attention with which the Spanish community on the Island follows the Spanish electoral process is surprising. Among voters here there is a clear intention to push the policies of Madrid’s Moncloa Palace so that, in turn, something will move in the Plaza of the Revolution. The ballot cast in this “overseas ballot box” carries a scream demanding attention, and a handkerchief waving from the shipwreck. The same couple who – from their Havana table – made their marks next to the name of a foreign party, now face the dilemma of whether to take their children to “the motherland” or to leave them in the country where they were born. Whether we like this dependence or not, today in Spain a part of the Cuba’s course was also decided, of this nation that boasts of its sovereignty but which, in reality, hangs on many threads that are woven abroad.

10 thoughts on “Overseas Ballot Boxes

  1. And I doubt that the poster of the post 8 is a member of the team “yoani”m who I addressed in my post No. 7.

    Or are you?

    In which case the screaming for help from your anonimous “nick-name” would make a LOT of sense…

  2. Disjointed logic.

    Post 8 implies that those Spaniards in Cuba are actually NAZISTS and/or FASCISTS.

    For info of the misinformed (or misinforming) poster, nazists and fascists fought AGAINST communists in the WWII and ever since.

    To suggest that somehow nazists and fascists suddenly love commies so much they rush to live in Cuba is plain ridiculous.

    And stupid too. Pure capitalist delusional hysteria. Whoever told you to write that was counting on your ignorance and naivety.

    They were right.

  3. Damir says: “Come on, do explain this to us”

    I’ll try but you won’t listen.

    There are always imperialists like you who enjoy living in poor fascist dictatorships. There are Spaniards living in every country, even Haiti and Cuba. But none of them go to live like a Cuban serf, they go because of business or to take advantage of the very cheap Cuban prostitutes or other cheap luxuries only capitalists enjoy in Cuba.

    Just like there were Spaniards who lived in Nazi Germany, but none went there to live in a concentration camp.

    I hope the above explanation wasn’t too complicated for you.

  4. Disjointed “logic” of the thoughts the team “yoani” pretends to present is self-defeating and needs no rebuking.

    I just love pointing out significant blunders, often beating categorisation of “stupid” and diving into the more serious zones of psychiatry.

    In this post the simple yet dramatically significant point is completely lost on the team “yoani”:

    by their own admission here there is a large Spanish enclave on the island.

    LARGE!!!

    While certainly there are a few Cubans who had acquired it through one of many available ways, it is also true that there are many “Gallegos” who simply CAME to Cuba.

    As I wrote some months ago, there are at least 30 000 of those Spanish-born Spaniards on the island. Many came since 2008, after the famous collapse of capitalism, which is still going on and getting WORSE by the day.

    In any event, please explain to us: how come there are so MANY of those Spaniards LIVING on the island, where there’s “nothing” but “censorship” and “torture”, and Marx knows what else that only the “righteous freedom fighters” like the team “yoani” can see…?

    And if we allow the possibility that the eam “yoani” might be right, WHY are they STILL there and are not running away from the island in droves?

    Why there is NO second Mariel event? Why indeed these foreigners, and let us include the others just for the arguments sake like unknown number of other Europeans (estimate talks about 105 000 foreigners – I provided the link in my earlier post, look for it if you want to read the exact numbers) among whom are also 9 000 usanians, all living in absolute luxury and missing on nothing, and I doubt they are all friends of Fidel – why aren’t they running to the shores and jumping onto the makeshift rafts to leave the island NOW?

    Because it is not even remotely as bad as the team “yoani” would love to have the world think.

    And to make the things worse, while the “free democratic and some kind of pragmatic capitalist world is drowning fast in yet another self-inflicted economic disaster, the last one this time given the speed with which the economies of the “free world” are defaulting, Cuba is RECOVERING from the economic slump exacerbated by the economic blockade of that “free democratic” nazist gulag up north.

    The same one that has 54 TRILLIONS, and growing fast, of internal DEBT that will eventually crush it into unrecognisable pieces of turkey leftovers washed down with that poisonous soft drink laden with phosphorous acid and illegal drug, coca.

    Come on, do explain this to us.

    Please?

  5. Humberto, if anybody else was doing it they’d be called greedy capitalists, imperialists, pawns of yanqui imperialists, exploiters, parasites, worms, etc.

    But call yourself an anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist, while serving us capitalist tourists your best food while Cubans go hungry, and it’s all good with the brain-dead Marxist brigade.

  6. MY GRANDFATHER WAS AN ILLITERATE FARMER FROM SPAIN THAT CAME TO CUBA AS A BOY, WORKED HARD IN THE FIELD ALL HIS LIFE AND HIS RIGHT TO SELL HIS PRODUCTS TO HIS COUNTRYMEN WAS TAKEN FROM HIM! NOW THIS RIGHT IS BACK AFTER 52 YEARS, TOO BAD HE HAD TO FLEE TO THE USA AND DIE ONLY DOING YARD WORK TO FILL THIS VOID IN HIS LIFE! I WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT THE CASTROFASCIST DID TO HIM AND TO MY FAMILY!

    REUTERS : Cuba to let farmers sell directly to tourist sector

    (Reuters) – Cuban farmers can bypass the state and start selling products directly to businesses catering to tourists, state-run media said on Monday in announcing the latest market-oriented reform in the one of the world’s last communist countries.

    Communist Party newspaper Granma said the change, which takes effect on Dec. 1, was aimed at improving the variety and quality of food to the tourist sector, cutting transportation costs and reducing food losses that have plagued the country because of inefficiencies in getting harvested products to market.

    The changes will allow the development of ways to “better take advantage of the potentialities … at the local scale,” the newspaper said.

    Tourism is one of Cuba’s most important sources of foreign exchange, with 2.7 million visitors expected to the Caribbean island this year, but poor food and service are frequently cited as reasons for tourists coming once and not returning.

    The new regulations break from the past by reducing the state’s role as the middle-man in getting farm products to the tourist industry and by allowing buyers and sellers to set their own prices.

    The change follows recent moves to allow Cubans to more freely buy and sell houses and cars, both of which were severely restricted after Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution, and other reforms aimed at modernizing the island’s state-dominated Soviet-style economy.

    President Raul Castro, who succeeded older brother Fidel Castro in 2008, is trying to revive Cuba’s moribund economy to ensure the survival of communism once the current generation of leaders is gone.

    (Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Vicki Allen

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/idINIndia-60642020111121

  7. Simba Sez: Humberto you say this is an excellent essay about what is needed for real change in Cuba. I say 99% of this is mumbo-jumbo. In the last paragraph where he finally states that with a lack of political oppression, and with economic reform a democracy could function the author actually makes sense. He only left out the part where the “Revolutionary Force” needs to be eliminated, whether through natural causes or otherwise.

  8. EXCELLENT ESSAY REGARDING WHAT IS NEEDED FOR REAL CHANGES IN CUBA!

    POLICYMIC: Cuba Needs to Focus on Human Rights More Than Economic Freedoms- Jacinda Chan

    Just as America fears Iran becoming a nuclear power, the U.S. once feared Cuba would posses nuclear weapons that could threaten the United States. To keep itself safe, the U.S. placed intense economic sanctions on Cuba. Instead of improving the country, these sanctions forced Cuba into isolated authoritarian rule.

    Cuba remains one of the few communist countries in the world, and it does not show signs of changing its political structure any time soon. To this day, the U.S. has sanctions on Cuba, even though the country has begun accepting more liberal economic policies recently. The government passed a new law to allow the sales and purchase of private property. However, these policies will not lead Cuba to become a democratic ally, as the country still has significant restrictions on the freedom of movement and prohibition of political opponents. If Cuba is to ever become a democracy, policymakers must focus on pressuring Cuban President Raul Castro to implement human rights policies alongside his economic reforms. Privatizing property and allowing small businesses to open will never solve the root of Cuba’s oppression – restricting freedom of movement and prohibiting political opponents.

    Within the past year, Castro has passed two new laws that allow Cubans to make transactions of their own free will without government interference. To create jobs and wealth, the government permitted people to open small businesses in March. Businesses could set their own prices and hire and fire employees at their choosing. But Cubans had no money to start businesses and buy supplies. So the government granted citizens and permanent residents even greater rights. They could buy and sell private property, bequeath property to relatives without restriction, and avoid forfeiting their homes if they abandon the country. Despite implementing two major reforms to liberalize the economy, these policies will not lead to civil and political freedoms.

    Castro still violates Cubans’ freedom of movement. He continues to enforce Decree 217 that prohibits “persons in other provinces from moving into Havana.” This decree prevents Cubans from accessing the wealth they need to live free lives. Havana is where a majority of business transactions occur and therefore, holds the countries profits. Without access to Havana, Cubans cannot obtain the wealth they need to get what they want. This leaves Cubans powerless to determine their lives. In order for Cubans to live free lives, Castro must stop his methods of social oppression and allow for a multitude of voices to be heard.

    This could be difficult, though. The Cuban government prohibits all political opponents. The government harasses those who dare to give voice to the desires of their fellow Cubans and repeatedly beats and tortures dissidents during detentions. According to the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the number of persons detained temporarily for political reasons rose from 821 between January 2010 and June 2010 to 1,727 between July 2010 and December 2010. The Cuban government only continues to exasperate this trend by imprisoning more political prisoners.

    With this pattern of human rights abuse, economic reform alone stands no chance at democratizing Cuba. Instead, policymakers need to focus on pressuring Castro to implement civil and political freedoms. If Cuba solved the roots of much of its problems – restrictions on movement and oppression of political opponents – Cubans could live freer lives. The economic reforms that Castro implements would then have a significant impact on the country. These economic freedoms could bring about the democracy that Americans have wanted for so long in Cuba.

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/2462/cuba-needs-to-focus-on-human-rights-more-than-economic-freedoms

  9. Some fools think that the comment section of personal blogs should be democracies; they scream and whine and threaten like big babies when they perceive any unfairness.

    Some fools fail to recognize the oppression that the lack of a democratic system has wrought on 11 million people that are standing right in front of him on his island paradise. Oh, and he could see all of them from Cienfuegos, LOL.

  10. Yes, just read some Marxist fool who says we live in a “dictatorship of the dollar”. Obviously he never lived in a real dictatorship, the “dictatorship of everything”, the only other type of government in this world.

    After 1959 the Castros became slaves of the “Russian dollar” and after 1990 the “US dollar” “Chinese dollar” “Venezuelan dollar” “Canadian dollar”, etc.

    And since 1959 Cubans have been the slaves of the Castros.

    Cuba is a real “dictatorship of the dollar” where Marxist fools live like lords because they carry “lots of dollars”

    Of course they don’t want elections in Cuba and find out how Cubans really think.

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