OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Photo: Juvenal Balán

With the same rights enjoyed by the Cuban people, the principal protagonists in the democratic, participative process of the 2017-2018 general elections, readers of Granma International are offereda dialogue, organized by our multimedia staff, with members of the National Candidatures Commission on their work during these historic elections.

Central topics of ongoing interest discussed were essential aspects of the composition of the Commission and its function, as well as the culmination of the process set to take place April 18-19, with the constitution of the National Assembly of People's Power 9th Legislature and the election of the Council of State.

This online encounter, to which Youth Computer Clubs across the country contributed, was further evidence of the importance given these issues, as was the enthusiastic, responsible participation of the population, first to elect delegates to Municipal Assemblies of People's Power, and more recently, deputies to the National Assembly.

Who are the Commission's members and how are they selected?

Jorge Misas Hernández (JMH) Member of the National Candidatures Commission (CCN): National Candidatures Commission are composed of representatives from our country's mass organizations: the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Federation of University Students, and the Federation of Secondary School Students.

Reinier Cruz González (RCG). CCN member: The Commission is presided at all levels by a representative from the CTC, and its members are named by their respective national, provincial, or municipal leadership bodies, as requested by Electoral Commissions at the different levels.

It would be important to understand what legal framework guides the CNN and how it works.

Alfredo Machado López (AML). Vice President of the National Candidatures Commission: Law 72, the Electoral Law, defines the composition of the Candidature Commissions and their functions. In the democratic order, they have a very special mission, not always fully understood by our people, which consists of developing a broad pool - based on proposals from leadership bodies of the mass organizations that comprise the commissions and from nominations made in our neighborhoods - from which candidates for delegate to Provincial Assemblies of People's Power, and for deputy to the National Assembly, are selected.

Likewise, our (National) Commission undertakes an extensive process of consultation with the deputy candidates, and later deputies, accompanying them on their visits to communities, work places, and schools. We listen to them and consider their opinions on who should be part of the National Assembly's Presidency and the Council of State, so that before the presentation of the proposals, widespread, meticulous work has been done with thousands of men and women of proven merit, ability, and commitment to the people and the Revolution.

How different is the functioning of this Candidature Commission from those of other countries, and how much time do you have to complete and authenticate the process?

AML: Our Candidature Commissions carry out, more or less, the role that in other countries political parties carry out - leaving obvious differences aside - but their membership, consisting of representatives from mass organizations in which almost the entire population is included, allows us to all feel present.

Our term began on June 30, of 2017, and through the different stages of the process, we worked on more than 12,000 proposals, and I can assure you that what takes place in the leadership bodies to come up with their definitive proposals is far from a formality. There is a democratic component that would be hard to see in any other country.

If you add to this that constituency delegates are nominated and elected in neighborhoods, and that the National Assembly can include up to 50% of these grassroots delegates, and that all the country's municipalities are represented by at least two deputies, I would dare to assure you that it is highly unlikely that anything like this happens anyplace else.

Could you summarize the process of electing the President and other national leaders?

JMH & RCG: As stipulated in the Electoral Law cited, Law 72, this April 18, the President, First Vice President, Vice Presidents, Secretary and other members of the Council of State are elected in indirect elections, that is, the deputies elected by the people approve the candidature and then, with a secret ballot, vote for these compañeras and compañeros, selected from among the 12,000 proposals made in 970 plenums of mass organization leadership bodies.

How will the people be informed of what occurs on April 18-19?

AML: Our people will be informed, on a timely basis, ofwhat occurs during the session's proceedings and all of the relevant details. The men and women elected to different responsibilities will also be announced, that is the President of the National Assembly, its Vice President and Secretary, as well as the composition of the Council of State.

I can assure you that the 605 deputies who make up our National Assembly are the product of arduous work by the Candidature Commissions at all levels, already explained, and that they have all the merits and abilities needed to represent us honorably in parliament.

To what degree were youth represented at the different levels you mentioned?

AML: Our communications media have provided broad coverage on the characteristics of the deputies, and we can say that a good pool exists, in which there are more than 80 youth between 18 and 35 years of age, to which we can add others not quite so young, who were born with the Revolution, as a group representing 89.25% of the 605 deputies.
Along with this, the consultation process explained, to gather opinions on this and other issues, allows us to indicate with full confidence that, in this historic session, we have the men and women who constitute the firmest and most loyal expression of the continuity of the revolutionary process we are constructing.

Are the nominations for the Presidency made by deputies in the Assembly or is the candidature as a while presented.

JMH & RCG: As we have been explaining, deputies to the 9th Legislature were consulted individually by the CCN during the month of March, to gather their proposals for members of the National Assembly's leadership and the Council of State, including for the latter, its President, First Vice President, Vice Presidents, and Secretary.

All are among the deputies elected by the people in different provinces, and therefore have the right to be included on the candidature slate that our Commission will present to the April 18 session.

Alden Rafael Sánchez Sanjudo Ramírez (ARSR) CCN member: It's important to clarify that these elections are conducted separately. First will be the vote to constitute the National Assembly with its new leadership, and then the proposed slate for the Council of State, prepared by our Commission, will be presented to the deputies.

Upon presenting this proposal that reflects the opinions of the deputies themselves, the Assembly President informs deputies of their right to partially or totally amend it. Next, the candidature is submitted for approval, and once it is approved by a majority of the deputies present, it becomes the list of candidates to elect the Council of State.

This vote tally is conducted by the National Electoral Commission and it is the president of this body who announces the results of the direct, secret ballot vote, and declares elected, to the proposed position, those who receive more than 50% of the valid votes cast. In the event that one of the candidates does not obtain the required number of votes, a new proposal is made by the CCN and another election is held.

After two hours of interaction with the population, led by the President of the National Candidature Commission, Gisela María Duarte Vázquez, readers added to the discussion with commentaries online, recognizing electoral authorities, supporting elected deputies, and expressing confidence that the National Assembly's new leadership and the Council of State, will preserve the work of Fidel and Raúl.