Cuban activists and opponents denounced this Sunday (26) several acts of repression against journalists and dissidents who tried to carry out electoral observation tasks in the parliamentary elections on the island.
The NGO Cubalex is recording incidents of this type in a public file on the internet. Until around 16:00 (local time, 17:00 GMT), it had identified 19 cases of repression with more than 20 people affected.
The most common complaints were about surveillance and police monitoring operations, selective internet signal interruptions, arbitrary arrests and home confinement.
The acts of repression, according to Cubalex, took place in different parts of the country, with a special incidence in Havana and Camagüey (center), but also in Holguín (east), Guantánamo (east), Matanzas (center), Santiago de Cuba (east ) and Villa Clara (center).
Three opposition organizations announced before the elections that they intended to act as election observers (in the absence of independent international staff). As reported this Sunday, they had 75 volunteers who covered 14 of the 15 provinces of the country.
Some dissidents and journalists not linked to the regime denounced in the days before the parliamentary elections that they had received pressure and threats for promoting abstention or preparing to carry out electoral observation tasks, as is the case of the opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa.
Cuba held the parliamentary elections this Sunday with which it will renew for five years the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP), the island’s main legislative body.
A total of 470 candidates ran for an equal number of seats in Cuba’s unicameral Legislative Assembly, and voters have the option of supporting them or not.
Among the candidates, historical figures of the Castro dictatorship stand out, such as former President Raúl Castro, 91, ministers, high-ranking members of the Communist Party, bureaucrats, musicians, scientists, intellectuals and heads of state-owned companies.
You can only occupy a seat in Parliament who obtains the support of more than 50% of the valid votes. In the last parliamentary elections, all the candidates got their position in the elections. Otherwise, there are various legal provisions for filling positions that may become vacant.
The candidates were selected by the so-called mass organizations, associations within the Communist Party’s orbit, and approved for the municipal assemblies of popular power, where its militants are the majority.
Almost all candidates in these elections belong to the Communist Party or its youth. In the current ANPP, these represent 96.5% of the deputies, according to the website of the Cuban Parliament.
The Cuban regime, the Communist Party, state institutions and the media have encouraged citizens in recent weeks to vote as a block for all candidates proposed by each district.
Dissident and opposition groups inside and outside the island call for abstention as a way of expressing rejection of the electoral system in particular and the communist model in general.
After abstention figures below 10% between 1976 and 2013, the rate rose to 14% in the 2018 parliamentary elections, the last comparable in size held in Cuba.
The two previous times that Cubans went to the polls were in the referendum on the Family Code, in September last year – when abstention was close to 26% -, and in the November municipal elections, in which it rose to 31%.
Voting hours have been extended
Cuba’s National Electoral Council has extended voting hours across the country by an additional hour in parliamentary elections, which were initially due to end at 6 pm local time.
The decision to keep the 23,468 polling stations open for these elections until 7 pm (8 pm) took into account the “high mobility” of voters, the “sustained increase in turnout to the polls”, the possibility of voting outside the place of residence and the “repeated requests” received, according to a note from the Electoral Council.
In addition, the body highlighted that the extension of voting hours is provided for in article 97.2 of the Electoral Law.
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