In Cuba, everything is ready for the biggest ritual of the absurd: the so-called people’s power elections through which, once again, the troubled “contributors” will think they are deciding who will “govern” their constituency, the territory covering the few blocks around the voters’ residence. The revolutionary-socialist vernacular refers to the new administrator as “delegate”. He is selected from two possible ones, previously assigned by the activists and agents of the one party, placed in each area at the time of the “nominations”. By the way, I was not summoned to the nomination meeting, and I am honored by that gesture. It is obvious that they are not counting on my dignified presence at the polls.
Well, my readers are probably familiar with the ceremony: On Sunday, April 25th, Cubans will wake up to the tune of the street loudspeakers calling out “to vote for the best and most capable” (I don’t know capable of what), there will always be an old CDR or militia combative who will be up at the crack of dawn to be the first one to vote, a couple of pioneers on “guard” next to the cardboard box that serves as the ballot box, who will later receive the bonuses that will distinguish them in their respective schools and will brand them with an ideological advantage over their little comrades in studies; several respectable community neighbors, serious and solemn, who will assume the functions of the “electoral table” with the official listing of electors, the ballots and, of course, most of the people in the neighborhood who will file in by the school to legitimate, even if it’s only with their mere presence, the consecration of deception.
At the end of the day, after simulating a scrutiny where only authorized and carefully trained eyes handle the ballots from the box and report the results, the pioneers will truly believe they guarded something that will distinguish them, the old man who got up early will be satisfied with his demonstration of loyalty to the regime and will forget -at least until the next pension check- the balancing miracles he will have to perform in order to not die of starvation; the members of the board will have gossip material for a couple of days, while neighbors, in turn, may possibly not even remember what name appeared to the left of the box they checked on their ballot, but they will have served their purpose: thanks to the five-year pantomime, the government sentinels will consider them loyal, they will not have problems at work or they will able to survive their CDR’s checking up on them, while they will continue to sneak around, dealing in stolen goods or will continue their illegal small businesses, all to survive the usual shortages. The most poisoned by the venom of half a century of slogans and “battles” will believe that, indeed, this new delegate will solve the bread problem (the longest and most difficult equation of the revolutionary mathematical system), the sewer leak on the corner, almost as old as the Nile and just as long and flowing, and the problem of materials needed to repair Pepe’s building, propped up for over ten years.
The “elected” delegate, for his part, a sort of tropical politician without an agenda or proposals, but well-trained in obedience, will have his wits about him: he will only need to have a little patience to receive the barrage of complaints from voters at each “accountability” meeting, repeating the manual’s tidbits over and over again: “the country is going through a difficult situation,” “the U.S. blockade is obstructing the purchase of materials needed to repair the property”, do you know the price of wheat flour in the world market and how much it costs our Revolution to ensure subsidized bread, comrades?” and he will obey without flinching each course they dictate from above. In exchange, with a little luck, at the end of his “mandate”, perhaps he might get the materials needed to repair his own dwelling and who knows what other additional little benefit he might obtain.
While thinking and rethinking all of this, it occurs to me that it is actually true: in some ways, we all make our own choices here.
Image: The photograph was taken at the entrance to the elevators in the apartment building where Reinaldo and Yoani live. Note the spelling errors in contrast to the accuracy of the sketch showing neighbors where to go to “nominate”.