Cuba Prepares For March 11 Elections

Cubas 24,470 polling stations will be administered by more than 200,000 polling stations for the country's March 11 national elections. 

Cuba is assuring the quality and transparency of its upcoming elections by training some 200,000 people to administer the over 24,000 polling stations where voting will take place March 11.

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In total, there will be 24,470 polls set up throughout the country for citizens to cast their ballots, 141 of which will be set up to attend to an above average quantity of voters. 

National Electoral Commission spokesperson, Marina Capo Ribalra, says the stations will include full lists of candidates, ballots and computer equipment to facilitate people's voting.

Cuba's 8 million people will vote for 605 national parliamentary delegates and 1,265 representatives to represent its 15 provinces in the Popular Power Assembly. 

The country's current parliament has the world's largest number of women representatives. Candidates for this parliamentary cycle are over 40 percent mestizo or Black. 

Cuba's newest president will later be elected by a parliamentary committee.

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Brazil: Lula Supporters Convene in Porto Alegre Before Trial

Construction of the “Encampment for Democracy and in Defense of Lula” is currently underway by members of the Popular Brazil Front.

Dozens of jurists, intellectuals and politicians have convened in the Federation of Workers in Financial Institutions of Rio Grande do Norte, Fetrafi, to discuss the legal right of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva to run in this year's presidential election, as well as defending democracy. 

RELATED: Brazilian Prosecutor Say He 'Sees No Reason' to Detain Lula as Former President Pledges to Clear His Name

A sticking point in the discussion revolved around a number of irregularities in the Operation Car Wash investigations. Lula has been sentenced by judge Sergio Moro for his alleged connection to the graft scandal. His appeal ruling is scheduled for Jan. 24.

“Maybe much greater than those judicial deficiencies is the use of the Criminal Law for political ends,” said Jacson Zilio, professor of Criminal Law at the Federal university of Parana, UFPR. “This is a process in which what is in debate is precisely that destruction of the democratic state governed by the rule of law in which criminal processes are configured as processes of exception.”

Another professor of Criminal Law at UFPR, Juarez Cirino, shared Zilio's opinion, according to Brasil de Fato. He said that as a result of successive electoral losses by Lula's political opponents, as well as the projected loss at the polls later this year, “they've discovered this method of political struggle, dislocating the electoral campaign from public squares” to the Fourth Regional Federal Court, TRF-4 in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul.

Cirino went on to note that Lula, as many people had anticipated, “was condemned without proof and the people are here, united, in in order to support him at this point in time.”

Having left office with a record approval rating of 83 percent, according to Datafolha, Lula now leads upcoming presidential polls conducted by Vox Populi, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos. His two terms in office were marked by slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the U.N. World Hunger Map. He also made significant improvements in housing and education, which stand in contrast to those who governed the country in the past.

Brazil's Fourth Regional Federal Court, TRF-4, will rule on his passive corruption case on Jan. 24. Some argue that the trial was scheduled in a loathsome twist of planning as it falls on the one-year anniversary of his wife's stroke that led to her death.

Construction of the “Encampment for Democracy and in Defense of Lula” is currently underway by members of the Popular Brazil Front and landless farmers. The site will play host to supporters of Lula's cause as they accompany the ruling in Porto Alegre.

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Chile: The Hyper-Neoliberalism that Comes

I tried looking for another title, but this one fits right in, because neo-liberalism had already been introduced in Chile with the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It were the still, remnants of Pinochet’s followers who celebrated the unquestionable victory of the right-wing last Sunday 17th, taking advantage of all the mistakes of the denominated progressive forces that cannot put aside their differences.

The outgoing president, Michelle Bachelet had called to exercise a voluntary vote in favor of the official candidate Alejandro Guillier, and civic against the neoliberal Sebastian Piñera, but half of the voters did not attend the poll rooms. The majority displeased with their presidency, which barely fulfilled some of the promises, had to ignore the most important and only attained social advances regarding the important task of protecting women and children.

But the latter is insufficient, when a Wide Front and other far-left elements did not value the Guillier’s candidature, before a calm Piñera doesn’t care a bit to make public mistakes, while he already announces neoliberal measures that, he assures, will improve all Chileans.

He had already mocked the program proposed by Guillier who planned to continue the reformations that Bachelet could not fulfill as well as a wide economic and social program that would cost nearly 10 000 million dollars, which, as it was known would try to collect with more taxes to the rich classes in such an unequal country where a simple administrator earns 30 times more than a worker.

Most of the achievements of the Chilean people in these years have been attained in the streets, thanks to massive mobilizations, now new ones and bigger loom ahead because of the hyper-neoliberalism that approaches.

Piñera a businessman with a 2 700 million dollars fortune, successful in the businesses he conducts. He is always keeps an eye on them and only averts his eyes to expresses his support to the current governments of Argentina and Colombia; while he criticizes the presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.

Despite saying in several occasions that he rejected Pinochet's continuity in power, the right-wing candidate cannot erase that, hence he was widely supported by Juan Antonio Kast, candidate of the former dictatorship defeated in the first round of elections, forced to escape from the National Stadium (where were gathered and murdered thousands of Chileans), where he was when Piñera’s win was taking place.

He recently assured that part of his government program will be focused in “greater austerity and expense reassignments.”

"It would be good enough if we can increase by one point the capacity of potential growth in Chile so that we can collect 7 000 millions extra in the coming four years. We have proven that we are able to make our economy grow”, he highlighted.

He also plans to reduce programs like Sense and Mas Capaz based on granting social helps of employment training, although he assured that “it’s not like we are terminating the programs, but rather reassign to efficient programs.”

Sebastian Piñera applied neoliberal agenda during his term and the new proposals for this process go hand in hand. He is a commercial engineer with mention in Economy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and has a PhD and a Master Degree in Economy at the University of Harvard, United States.

Militant in the reactionary party National Renovation, he ran for senator between 1990 and 1998. In year 2005 he vied against Michelle Bachelet for the presidency, representing to the right-wing coalition, back then it was known as "Alliance for Chile". He attained 46,5% of votes, that weren’t enough to win the presidency.

In 2009 he run for president again and in January 2010 he won with 51,6% of votes.

A letter of the right-wing filed in the pact "Chile Vamos" for these elections, always gave him as favorite. The opposition was weak, abstention was high and not understanding the power of a single vote, if counted, made forget the conflicts of interest for his role as businessman, the conservative politics promoted in his campaign and representing the national wing that supported Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

A lot will be said of the elected President, while his opponent rival, Alejandro Guillier, gloomily acknowledged his hard defeat and thanked those who believed in him, an approximate of 45,42%, against the 54,58% of Piñera, granted by half of the voters enabled to vote.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

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Cuba: First Stage of Elections Ends

The first stage of Cuban electoral process ended well and with the presence of 78% of voters, informed today the National Electoral Commission (CEN for its acronym in Spanish).

A note from CEN ran at the news television show specified that 60 870 proposals were made, from which 27 221 candidates were nominated.

From that total, 9 637 are women, representing the 35,40%; while 5 307 are young, 19,49%.

The candidate nomination process to the municipal assemblies of People’s Power – scheduled from September 4th to October 30th - was characterized by discipline and organization.

CEN also reported that of the current delegates 8 331 were nominated, representing the 66,44%.

The report also highlighted that last October 19th until November 9th the lists of voters will be published in the districts, and works are done in their background checks and upgrade.

The pictures and biographies of those nominated are also shown on boards since November 1st, so that voters have the necessary elements when choosing the candidate of their preference next November 26th.

CEN added that from November 1-17 selected voters to join polls tables at polls offices, as well as the rest of electoral staff will get ready to direct the voting process in the districts.

The Council of State modified last September 19th the schedule of the first stage of elections because of the impact of hurricane Irma.

The first round of elections for delegates to municipal assemblies of People’s Power will be carried out next November 26th.

The second round is scheduled for December 3rd for those districts in which none of the candidates won more than half of the issued valid votes.

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General Elections Schedule Rearranged on its First Stage

The changing of the schedule will allow that the assemblies of nominees are carried out with the quality needed.

The National Electoral Commission, meeting the agreement of the Council of State of Cuba passed on September 18th, 2017, that established to postpone the general elections in its first stage for November 26th. The Commission decided to stretch until October 30th the assemblies of nominees to the municipal organization of People’s Power.

The changing of the schedule will allow that the assemblies of nominees are carried out with the quality needed, and that the population, focused on recovering from the havoc after hurricane Irma, can participate fully in the assemblies and present the best nominees for their merits, capacity and commitment with the people, under Law 72, Electoral Law.

The lists of voters will be published on October 19-20, guaranteeing that electoral district commissions and the registration finish the verification and upgrade of this document before the deadline.

The training of staff at all levels especially those working on electoral district commissions and electoral tables, was reprogrammed for November 1-17.

The pictures and biographies of nominee to the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power will be published since November 1st.

All the above required a readjustment of documents, indications and instructions to guarantee the due organization of the electoral schedule, like Instruction No. 1 about the upgrade of the Voters Registration, the Plan of Activities of the National Electoral Commission, the Calendar of Information and the Electoral Guideline, among others.

The National Electoral Commission requested its provincial counterpart to take the necessary measures to guarantee the execution of the new schedule.

Since last September 21st until September 29th, the members of the National Electoral Commission and those from the Group of Supervisors have paid visits to assess the different electoral structures in order to know, evaluate and support the work on the base.

As reported, on November 26th is the new appointed date by the Council of State for the selection of the representatives to the municipal organization of People’s Power, who will remain for two years and a half. On December 3rd will take place the second turn, in districts where the candidates had won more than half of the valid votes.

The nomination assemblies of nominees to delegates to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power that began last September 4th, continue all through Cuba after Irma's wreckage. The nominations will occur in each place given the conditions to guarantee the quality of the process, fully following the Constitution and the Electoral Law, keeping in mind the importance of the assemblies, as opportunity for the full right to vote.

The change in the schedule for the assemblies and readjustment is an example of the importance given in Cuba to this electoral process as well as expression of the Cuban democratic system.

National Electoral Commission

Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Cubasi Translation Staff

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Emmanuel Macron Keeps Lead in Race for French Presidency

The center-liberal candidate Emmanuel Macron is a clear favorite to win the presidential elections in France, with a comfortable lead of some 20 points over the ultra-right nominee Marine Le Pen.

If it is known that the representative of the National Front has carried out an aggressive campaign on the field, that does not seem to be reflected on vote intention showed by a survey of Ipsos/Sopra Steria, published this Tuesday in several news media.

According to the study, the young leader of the movement En Marche hoards between 57 to 63 percent of the support, while his rival has from 37 to 43 percent, having in mind the error margin.

According to the poll, Macron attracts the majority of voters who favored other candidates in the first round.

In that sense, 76 percent of socialist Benoit Hamon followers, plan to back up the center aspirant, 49 percent of those who backed conservative François Fillon and 47 percent of left-wing Jean-Luc Melenchon.

For her part, Le Pen only manages to attract 25 percent of Fillon backers, 19 percent of Melenchon's and five percent of those of Hamon.

Although Macron is in a much more favorable position, the study showed some nuances: of the total interviewed, only 20 percent really wants his victory, 40 percent will support him solely to prevent the triumph of Le Pen and 40 percent would prefer he was defeated.

On the other hand, the study asked about citizen perceptions on the two finalists and the young politician generates more confidence in the handling of European issues, the place of France in the world, the struggle against unemployment, the moralization of public life and the environment.

On Le Pen's side, she generates more confidence on the anti-immigration issues, fight against terrorism, the combat of crime and the redujction of social inequities.

As for participation, the survey indicated that only 75 percent plan on voting May 7, two points less than in the first round held on April 23.

If the forecast is confirmed, it would be the first time since the decade of 1970 that the attendance to polling stations falls from the first to the second round.

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Decisive Stage of Election Campaign in France Begins

The campaign for the coming elections in France is now in its final and decisive stage, in the last week before the first round in which a total of 11 candidates will compete.

Presidential candidates will reinforce rallies, declarations, and public appearances, in order to win the vote of those still undecided, estimated at 34 percent of citizens, according to the latest Odoxa poll.

Analysts and media agree that the results of the first round will largely depend on the resolution of those who do not yet know who to vote for, although the high level of indecision could also lead to high abstention in a country where electoral participation average around 80 percent.

Of the 11 candidates, four lead the polls with fairly tight results, which introduces some uncertainty towards next Sunday's votes.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and ultra-right Marine Le Pen remain at the top with about 23 percent of the support but experience a negative dynamic by losing three to five points in recent weeks.

By its part, the leftist Jean-Luc Melenechon continues the unstoppable rise since the end of March and is in third place with about 20 percent.

In the case of the right-wing François Fillon, after several weeks stalled, he now manages to recover some points up to 18 percent, according to the most recent studies.

Far more behind are the remaining candidates, including the socialist Benoit Hamon with 10 percent, and the six who fail to surpass the threshold of five percent: the centrists Jean Lassalle and Jacques Cheminade, the sovereignists Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and François Asselineau, as well as the leftists Nathalie Arthaud and Philippe Poutou.

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