Cuba to hold last elections of the 'Castro era'

Cuba's Communist party will hold sham elections today as voters will ask to choose from a list of approved party candidates.

The election is a precursor to a vote in Cuba's legislature next month to select the first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution.


The government depicts the vote, which takes place every five years and in which Cubans are asked to endorse two official lists of candidates for the national and provincial assemblies, as a symbolic show of unity.

This year, though, the newly-seated national assembly will on April 19 select a new president to replace Raul Castro, 86, who together with his late older brother Fidel Castro ruled the Caribbean island for nearly six decades.

While Castro is expected to remain at the helm of the powerful Communist Party, First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, is expected to become president.

Given he will not have the same moral authority as the “historic generation” of revolutionary leaders, Diaz-Canel will have to earn his legitimacy by addressing voters’ concerns and raising living standards, analysts say.

That task will be more challenging at a time when aid from ally Venezuela is falling, relations with the United States - which maintains a decades-old embargo on Cuba - are worsening and there is pushback against market reforms.

“For many Cubans, elections have never represented change,” said Rafael Padron, 37, a sports trainer in Havana. “But this is a key moment.”

I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Padron, but absolutely nothing is going to change. Does anyone really believe that Raul Castro isn't going to maintain an iron grip on power? Diaz-Canel may be able to pick out the decor for the presidential office, but beyond that, he will be a puppet of the same regime that's been oppressing Cubans for 6 decades.

Leave it to the American media, who has romanticized these thugs and killers for so long, to report that a new era is beginning in Cuba and freedom is just around the corner.

If you experience technical problems, please write to