Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fidel Castro to be Nominated for President of Cuba

Hidden in a Cuban report about today's election from an hour ago was this:

Vice President Carlos Lage and First Vice President Raul Castro Ruz said they would support the reelection of Fidel Castro as President of the State Council ('el Presidente').

Maybe I am looking to much into it. But I believe these are the first clear statements by the top 2 (acting) Cuban officials potentially contradicting convention wisdom, which has been that Fidel would be formally stepping down from his post.

The Parliament elected today is predicted to be more than 2/3 new blood, 43% women and include representatives from the island's main religions. The body will have 45 days to elect 31 persons to the Council of State, which then chooses its President.

It seems likely now that Fidel will at least be put up for re-election. This will put the onus on Fidel to reject the nomination, if we are to take his words about not "clinging to power" literally. But perhaps he is truly feeling better. Perhaps the leadership situation is still unresolved and Fidel is needed to broker differences...

I doubt it. My thinking is that this announcement is intended to confuse the US and those plotting in the shadows (keeping cards close to vest). It also makes for a more dignified exit for Fidel, with him declining an invitation to stay on as President. All very well planned...

The election results will not be known until tomorrow, but we already know the turnout is as high as it has been in previous elections - above 95% (amazing). The only question will be how many voters heeded Fidel's advice and voted for "the slate" rather than making individual yes or no choices on particular candidates. The NY Times noted that voting against well known figures, or leaving a ballot blanked, are forms of protest that should be closely compared to previous years. In Cuba, candidates for office have been pre-elected directly by open neighborhood-level meetings and mass organizations. Candidates must gain at least 50% of the vote to be elected.

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Blogger jsb said...

It would be nice if the people could directly decide the fate of Fidel Castro. But I realize you communists don't believe the people know best what to think. MTV still banned in Cuba?

4:40 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

Belinda Salas Tápanes, a Cuban independent journalist and spokeswoman for a group seeking economic justice on the island, was arrested and briefly detained Friday, according to a report by Lourdes Yen Rodríguez posted at Payo Libre.

Salas, who is known to American diplomats in Havana, was arrested in Havana, as she prepared for a press conference to discuss the results of the “Con la Misma Moneda” ("With the same money") campaign. Sponsored by the Latin American Federation of Rural Women, the campaign seeks an end to Cuba's dual currency system, which leaves most Cubans in poverty.

As has become standard police practice during the temporary dictatorship of Raul Castro, officers warned Salas to abandon her dissident activities. Otherwise, she risked ending up in prison.

Salas told Yen, executive director of the women's group, that officers confiscated her identity card, and before she could get it back, she would have to visit Villa Marista, the headquarters of Cuban State Security.

In apparently related development, the president of the Rural Women, and her husband, were also detained, according to a report posted at Bitacora Cubana.

Independent journalist and librarian Julio Beltrán Iglesias received similar treatment earlier this month, according to his first-person account posted at Misceláneas de Cuba. He was released after eight hours but not before officers accused him of spreading false stories and threatened to imprison him under the notorious Law 88, if he continues with his journalism.

5:49 PM  

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