restricted access 5. Gender Equality and Electoral Politics: The 2002–2003 National Elections
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5 Gender Equality and Electoral Politics The 2002–2003 National Elections It is our responsibility to organize this [expression of the] people’s will, search for a composition, [and] search for representativeness. And these are the candidacies. We neither invent names, nor do we bring out a name that occurred to us and get together in a closed office and say: “Well, let’s include Aidita, let’s include Alfredo, or let’s include this one.” Instead, starting with these long lists, we begin to form the candidate projects in a process of successive approximations. Eduardo Freire Eduardo Freire, president of the National Candidate Commission, provides in the statement above a snapshot of the complex process the commission went through in order to arrive at the final candidate lists for the 2002–2003 national elections.1 This selection process is part of Cuban electoral dynamics , which are the topic of this chapter. The Cuban Communist party plays a decisive role in the election process. Cuban officials recognize the problematic of one party controlling the electoral process and insist that the party does not formally participate in the election process. Roberto Díaz, minister of justice and head of the National Election Commission, presented the official position: “For an electoral process in a one-party system to be truly democratic, well, simply put, from its origins it was conceived that the party should not have any institutional participation in the elections. This does not mean that the party militants cannot, like any other citizen, participate under equal conditions. . . . [However] the fact of being a party militant does not give him any prerogative .”2 These assurances notwithstanding, Cuban practice shows extensive party involvement. The 2002–2003 elections constituted an important opportunity to provide a window into the Cuban election process. This chapter complements the previous analysis by giving a detailed account of a specific election. Whereas comprehensive studies have been published that examine the Cuban elections, these studies lack a gender perspective.3 I begin with a look at the candidate nomination process and then present detailed election results for the municipal and national level. The focus of this chapter will be on examining the gender composition of the various assemblies. Gender Equality and Electoral Politics: The 2002–2003 National Elections / 89 The Nomination Process for People’s Power Candidates The National Candidate Commission (Comisión Nacional de Candidaturas, or CNC) oversees the process of selecting the candidates at the national level. The commission consists of representatives of the Cuban mass organizations, with the Cuban Confederation of Workers (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, or CTC) playing the leading role. Eduardo Freire emphasized that the CTC is given the leading role because “the strength of the revolution and the strength of any country are its workers, who create the resources, the goods, the services of a country. Without workers, there would be no country. Thus, this is the leading force of a society, as much in capitalism as in socialism.”4 By law, each mass organization has the right to nominate representatives to the commission. In 2002–2003 Ernesto Freire, the CTC’s secretary general, headed the commission, a role he had also played in the previous election. The other eleven members consisted of two representatives each from the Cuban Women’s Federation (FMC), the Small Farmers’ Association (ANAP), the Neighborhood Committees (CDRS), the Federation of University Students (FEU), and the Federation of High-School Students (FEEM). Completing the commission’s makeup was a second CTC representative. The representatives on the commission were “of course from the national leadership of the [respective ] organizations.”5 According to Freire, half of the commission’s membership consisted of women. The representatives of the FEU and the FEEM were to ensure that the youth perspective received appropriate attention. It is interesting that the Federation of High School Students had membership status, considering that most of the FEEM membership is not of voting age. The FEEM representatives recognized that this fact limited the organization’s role to some degree. Ana Margarita Morejón, the FEEM representative on the commission, affirmed that “the case of the FEEM is somewhat particular, because in the instance of the National Assembly, the Cuban Parliament, [a candidate] needs to be eighteen years old. Since the majority of the FEEM students leave the organization before they complete the age of eighteen,” the FEEM representatives cannot advance candidates from their own organization for national office.6 The candidate commissions exist at the national, provincial, and...


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Subject Headings

  • Women -- Political activity -- Cuba.
  • Women -- Cuba -- Social conditions.
  • Women -- Government policy -- Cuba.
  • Women's rights -- Cuba.
  • Democracy -- Cuba.
  • Cuba -- Politics and government -- 1959-1990.
  • Cuba -- Politics and government -- 1990-.
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