Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez called for respect for the political and electoral system of Cuba that this Sunday was holding municipal elections among candidates from an only party.
But dissident Guillermo Fariñas who has been on hunger strike for 60 days said the elections in Cuba under the Castro brothers are a “big farce”.
Hugo Chavez said on his weekly program “Aló Presidente” that Sunday’s elections are for councillors and merit recognition.
“It’s a democratic system that the Cubans have designed; there are no electoral campaigns or wall posters or leaflets. The Cuban president is elected. Raúl Castro was elected although not according to the western democratic system. Cubans have their political model which we must all respect”, underlined Chavez.
But Fariñas did not have the same opinion as Chavez.
“There’s no such thing as a free nomination of candidates. It has to be in your neighbourhood with a show of hands (an allusion to the way candidates are designated), and nobody wants to be identified to this regime of terror” said Fariñas from the intensive care unit where he is hospitalized in the city of Santa Clara.
According to the Cuban press the revolution leader Fidel Castro, 83, who handed power to his brother in 2006 because of ill-health voted in his residence and the ballot was presented to electoral officials on live television.
For this Sunday’s voting, some 8.4 million Cubans over 16 years of age are eligible to vote for more than 15,000 delegates (councillors) of the island’s 169 municipal assemblies, in a process that is repeated every two years.
Fariñas recalled that Cuban electoral regulations state that ballots must be sent to sick people who are lucid, and said he was waiting to see what decision state security will take in his case.
“If they bring me a ballot, what I’ll do is put: Down with the dynasty of the Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul), my signature and my ID number,” said Fariñas, who was admitted to hospital in mid-March after twice collapsing from hunger.
“If they don’t dare bring it to me, I’ll just be one more of those who didn’t go to vote,” he said.
The former special forces member, psychologist and journalist, began his hunger strike in his home last Februay 24, after the death of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo following an 85-day fast demanding that Cuba’s president, General Raul Castro, release 26 ailing members of the opposition.
Fariñas said international reaction has included “political groups of the left,” which in his opinion has caused “tremendous grief to the Cuban government.”
“I believe this is also a victory for the entire Cuban opposition and for Cubans in exile,” he said.
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