Those under the age of 40 probably don’t remember the bad old days of communism, when propaganda ruled, claims of supernatural scientific discoveries and economic miracles filled the headlines, and the great leaders were chosen with 99% of the vote, with 95% of people voting.

So one has to wonder when one sees a BBC headline announcing:

Cubans vote for new parliament

AH! an election…except it isn’t…but you have to read the fine print to figure it out.

Polls have closed in Cuba where people have been voting to choose members of a new National Assembly or parliament.

Only one person is standing per seat, including ailing leader Fidel Castro, even though he has not been seen in public for almost a year-and-a-half.

His brother, acting leader Raul Castro, said the new chamber would meet on 24 February, when it is expected to decide whether Fidel will remain president.

There are 614 candidates contesting 614 seats.

Counting of the votes has begun, but the BBC’s Michael Voss in Havana says the results are a forgone conclusion.

D’ya think so?

The AP Article is almost as bad but does go into detail on how to see if people are dissatisfied: See how many didn’t vote.

Except….whoops:

Even voters profoundly disappointed with the system usually vote because failing to show up at the polls can draw unwanted attention from pro-government neighborhood watch committees whose support can be needed to get jobs, housing or other official approvals.

So, don’t vote, lose your job/house/medical care.
Google news provides a lot more gushing articles from Cuban newspapers about the election. A typical gushing article proclaims:

Cuban election is a democratic constitutional exercise by which people enjoy the almost unique privilege of choosing whoever they considered is best for the highest governmental positions.  …As electoral authorities have pointed out, people should vote where they are registered, nevertheless, the system includes an exception clause for very specific and particular circumstances like temporary visitors who might not reach their places in time.

Even more amusing are the paper’s linked articles:

Cuban Elections: The Revolution Can Be Served from Any Post

Cuban Mothers Happy to Vote in Sancti Spiritus

Cuban World Champion Chooses Full Slate Vote

Cuba Elections: People Choose the Revolution

Cuba: Mass Participation in General Elections

Elections in Cuba: People’s Candidates

Cuba’s Sancti Spiritus: Homeland is the Choice

Elections in Cuba: There Is No Comparison

Cuban Minister of Higher Education Visits College in Sancti Spiritus

Cuba: Polling Stations Ready for Elections in Sancti Spiritus

Cuba: Social Program Backs Workers in Sancti Spiritus

Candidates Closer to the People in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

Fishermen to Catch More Lobsters in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

I just placed that one in for fun, to show that not everything in the paper is propaganda.

It seems that the fishermen are short of their quota of Lobsters. Hmm…there is a story behind that (pollution? Overfishing? leaky boats? lack of equipment?) but no details given, of course, so I’ll leave you to guess.

But there is at least one older gentleman who dared to write in his favorite candidate.

In this interview. a retired blacksmith who comments on the elections:

– How do you see these General Elections? “Better than ever. I suffered from an eye disease but I had a surgery right here in Camagüey and now I can see perfectly well”.

– Who you voted for?

“That I keep for myself, I just can tell you that I voted for the Commander in Chief since I followed his words as I always do and, though she was not nominated in these ballots, I also voted for Taimí, the young doctor who brought my vision back”.

So there you have it, folks.

As Dave Barry would say: I’m not making this stuff up.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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