Electoral Dance

Spanish post
March 12 2010


{Before becoming a delegate}            {After becoming a delegate. The briefcase reads “Snitch”}

I think it was on the 4th of January when I broke into laughter, on reading in Juventud Rebelde the declarations of Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, President of the National Assembly, who upon introducing the Municipal Electoral Commission, said, “Millions of people in the world would want to have elections as free and democratic as we have in Cuba”. Yes, he said elections, and not erections.

Since Alarcón is not a professional humorist I looked at the picture again and was able to verify that it was not Nelson Gudín, actor and screenwriter from the television program Deja que yo te cuente, (Let me tell you) which makes us laugh with such tremendous seriousness.  Alarcón is balder than el Bacán and Mente de Pollo (Bighead and Chicken-Mind), but he has as much talent as them.  Maybe that is why he was a diplomat for so many years, and spent two or three five-year terms at the head of the chorus girls that make up the Parliament, where everyone votes unanimously and everyone applauds the Head of State.

Three months after Alarcón’s little joke, the work of the Electoral Commission marches ahead, at least in the national press and in the newspapers and provincial radio stations, all so expert at presenting such a wonderful country that it becomes boring, grey and more monotonous than a dance from the early 20th century.

In the neighborhoods, the meetings of the voters are also predictable and “democratic”, just as the Commission of the Only Party has ordered, although the sham goes back and forth between the danzón and the bolero, according to the place and the hour of the TV soap opera.  At times some young man in jeans with his hips moving to a reggaeton beat might say, “Gentlemen, stop yakking away and lets end this applause because my baby is walking along the Malecon all by herself!”

The bustle of the local functionaries combines with the inertia and desperation of the neighbors, who are accustomed to “electing” those who are chosen from above, always letting the others live in peace, without being an obvious snitch.

Judging by the faces sometimes shown on television, in these meetings apathy reigns, apathy and people who look like they are at a wake.  The disdain with which they sing the national anthem is followed by a report of justifications read by the Delegate, who with great difficulty obtains two or three opinions about this useless performance; then comes the Way of the Cross to nominate the next victim. Then, and thanks to the careful nature of the presiding big shot, someone proposes the personage appointed by the higher ups, who accepts with resignation in the name of Country, Revolution and Socialism.

This ritual is repeated with some variations, at times to the rhythm of the guaracha, like the joker who applauds before he is supposed to, or the child frightened by the shouts against the “enemies that serve imperialism”, by which we mean the peaceful opponents, identified by the populace as Defenders of Human Rights.

Thus the regressive election goes forward, without new plans, debates, proclamations or publicity campaigns. Everything well tied down, so that the enemies of the old men that Mr. Alarcon represents in the National Assembly should not strain themselves.  In April the people will come out from the trauma of voting, just as God calls for “the best and most capable”, perhaps the most corrupt.  The environment is monotonous like an old-fashioned dance, but on the island of parrots and gasbags, democracy is so authentic that it would be enough to elect the mute for everything go on just as it is.

Translated by ricote

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