The Pride of Our Democracy

They were all waiting anxiously. Students and professors gathered early to welcome the visitors. Some have previously met them in person. Others felt curious to know, via their biographies, the most important aspects of their careers.

Finally, they arrived. The school theater hosts the most significant event of all: the exchange of viewpoints.

There is some shyness at first. But the newcomers break the ice. They are not here as a matter of forms. They are here to remove the perception of a simple photo on a wall. They want to be known not only because of their merits —written in a piece of paper—, but also as common people, no matter the importance of what they do.

Soon the ambiance gets pleasantly informal. They talk now about future goals. Young people want to know everything: their work, the electoral process, the reason why they are not from the municipality, and how many times have they been nominated before.

Answers are given one after another. And questions raises from the other side about future careers, functioning of the school hours, and students’ knowledge on the electoral process, and the number of times they have voted before. It was a crystal-clear chat where there was no “they” or “we”, but “all.”

The words “delegate”, “congressmen”, “political system” are now common to all and assume greater significance. Everything is understood as gestures, smiles, and watchful eyes show. It does not only generate interests, but also a profound conviction of voting as a right and duty.

When the meeting seems to come to an end, a new question raises. “Boys and girls, if you are nominated one day, are you going to accept?”

Some look to each other with surprise. No words to say yet. Doubts are written in some faces. And some says “even though we are 16 years old, we are still too young, and being delegate entails great responsibility.”

Nonetheless, to everyone’s surprise, a young face requested the floor. He has already fulfilled such mission and feels the need to share his experience:

“He is right. It is tough. But it is a school to be better women and men. If you were nominated to represent citizens, then do not hesitate. Take it with courage. You only need three things to reach the goal: will, effort, and human sensibility. And there you have a delegate in Cuba.”

The audience faces show light, a light of a simple and irrefutable truth. The ovation is a sign.

This is not a fictional story. I was there and I am pretty sure there have been other meetings similar to this one. The exchange of our congressmen with citizens is far from what we are used to watch all over the world in electoral campaigns.

This is not about delegates looking for aberrant populism. It is about delegates looking to be closer to citizens without obstacles. No one swaps promises for votes. This is a meeting point to share, talk as equals. There is no discrimination in Cuba. There is only one common cause: to defend the Revolution. This is, no doubt, the true face of what we call with pride Socialist Democracy.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

Brazil's Lula Da Silva Launches Candidacy, Says 'They Can Arrest My Flesh But Not My Ideas'

Lula emphasized that he's unsure what will happen in the coming months.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva has launched his pre-candidacy for this year's presidential election during an event hosted at Expominas in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Speaking to the crowd on Wednesday, he said that his “torturers,” in reference to judges, the corporate media and others who have pursued him on alleged corruption charges, can arrest “my flesh, but my ideas will carry on free. They will not detain our dreams.”

RELATED: Brazil: Lula Appeals Sentence on 'Technical Grounds'

Lula emphasized that he's unsure what will happen in the coming months. “What I do know is that I do not respect the (court's) decision ... For this reason, I'm a (presidential) candidate. I'll return to ensure that our people benefit from their rights and live better.”

Criticizing Globo, Brazil's largest media outlet, Lula said numerous hours of negative coverage had been dedicated to demonizing him. “What they don't understand is that the people know me,” he said adding "I doubt that their conscious is calm.”

Lula pointed out that the problem faced by the mainstream media is not him, but millions of others who believe in his ideas. “They can try to do away with me, tell the number of lies they tell headed by Rede Globo; they can try to demonize PT (Workers' Party). They are dealing with a different human being because I'm not me, I'm the incarnation of a piece of cell in each of you.

During a radio interview before his speech, Lula commented on the military intervention in the state of Rio de Janeiro. “I fear that the intervention in Rio de Janeiro is pyrotechnics, a maneuver of political interest... If the state is absent regarding public policies in impoverished areas, violence appears.

”He added: “Temer has found a way to become a presidential candidate and believes that public safety can be an important issue to secure a niche.”Lula has appealed his 12-year sentence for corruption on “technical grounds.” His lawyers say the written indictment contained 38 omissions, 16 contradictions and five areas that were unclear.

The faults raised should "result in the annulment of the whole process or acquittal of Lula," his lawyers said.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is greeted by supporters during a rally in Belo Horizonte, Brazil February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Washington Alves

 

 

  • Published in World

Bolivia: Massive Rallies Launch Evo Morales' Reelection Bid

Massive rallies were held in four Bolivian departments on Wednesday to launch President Evo Morales' 2019 presidential candidacy. Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) organized the support rallies in collaboration with the Federation of Campesino Workers of Cochabamba, Cocaleros (coca leaf growers) and neighborhood assemblies.

In Cochabamba, Jhonny Pardo, leader of the campesino federation, addressed the crowd of roughly 50,000 MAS supporters saying “we will guarantee the continuation of the process of change, even if it costs us our lives, we will achieve the continuity our brother Evo Morales.”

In La Paz, Sandro Ramirez of El Alto’s neighborhood assembly rallied supporters in Plaza San Francisco and criticized the opposition. “The right-wing’s goal is for Evo (Morales) not to participate in the 2019 elections, of course, because they don’t have a candidate,” Ramirez said.

In the Tarija and Cobija departments, the MAS party organized separate rallies. Via Twitter Morales thanked his supporters.

"I thank the Bolivian people who demonstrated in several cities to support the Democratic and Cultural Revolution and the Process of Change. Your love makes me commit to continue working for our homeland," Evo wrote.

Morales's opposition also took to the streets in what they called a national civic strike. Alfredo Reda, a government official, said the demonstrations were a failure because “it didn’t generate sufficient impact to paralyze productive, service and commercial activities.”  

The Opposition has, however, vowed to continue their protest with street blockages, and "massive marches". Juan Flores, president of the civic committees, said “we will coordinate with all the institutions an indefinite national civic strike. A national march towards La Paz will follow to ask the president to obey the will of the people.”

Rolando Villena, a former Bolivian ombudsman, has also voiced opposition to Morales' candidacy stating that the group, who are opposed to it will request a hearing with the Inter American Commission of Human Rights (ICHR), to present their arguments for the lawsuit against the state.

"We are going to request a hearing so that we can know the state (of the lawsuit) and where we are and continue in this action because there has to be a report from the International Commission on Human Rights," Villena explained.

Opposition groups presented a lawsuit against the decision by Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal to allow Morales to enter as a candidate in the 2019 presidential elections after Bolivians narrowly rejected a proposed constitutional reform preventing re-election.

Despite the results of 2016 referendum, several international organizations, groups, and political leaders have proclaimed their support for Morales.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a former Spanish president, said while speaking to gathering in Bolivia on Wednesday: "I'm here because I've seen Bolivia change, improve... If there has been a great president that is Evo Morales." Zapatero comments were supported by, Alberto Garzon a Spanish politician, economist, and member of United Left said: "We are twinned, the fight of Evo is the struggle of the peoples and workers of the whole world."

  • Published in World

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.

RELATED: 
US Congressmen Arrive in Cuba to Address 'Sonic Attacks'

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.

  • Published in Cuba

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.

  • Published in World

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

  • Published in Specials

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.

  • Published in Cuba

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

  • Published in Specials
Subscribe to this RSS feed