1st pre-electoral report on the Referendum of the Cuban Family Code

1st pre-electoral report on the Referendum of the Cuban Family Code

Published on 07 Feb 2023

The Transparencia Electoral project, DemoAmLat, together with Observatorio ProBox analyze the political and digital context in Cuba prior to the September 25, 2022 Referendum.

On September 25, the referendum on the Family Code will be held in Cuba. This is the third referendum to be held since the arrival of the Castro family to power. In a closed, autocratic context, with a magna carta that outlaws multipartyism and establishes that it is a country with a single party model (Communist Party of Cuba), and that this “organizes and guides the common efforts in the construction of socialism and the advance towards a communist society”, it has very little left to elect the citizenry.


The Constitution endorsed in 2019 established in its eleventh transitory provision that “taking into account the results of the Popular Consultation carried out, the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) will provide, within two years of the Constitution’s validity, to initiate the process of popular consultation and referendum on the draft Family Code, in which the form of constituting marriage must be included.”


After a non-binding “popular consultation” on the project carried out between February and April, in the legislative session of July 22 the ANPP approved the latest version of the Family Code and called for the referendum for its approval on September 25. The election day will take place between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, and voters will be presented with a ballot with the question “Do you agree with the Family Code?”, and with the options “Yes” and “No”. The ballot with 50% + 1 of the votes will be the winner.


DemoAmlat’s report addresses the two previous refrendary experiences (1976 and 2019), as well as the denunciations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and other organizations on human rights violations against non-official people who wanted to participate in the 2017-2018 electoral process, as well as against those who wanted to monitor the process.


It also gives an account of the electoral organization in Cuba, and how the Communist Party of Cuba ensures by provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Law the appointment of the directives of the National Electoral Council and the provincial ones, thus having control of such structures.


It highlights the lack of control and auditing instances in the electoral system, shortcomings that are of a structural nature, since since any other party or civil society organization that does not support the government is outlawed, independent citizens cannot audit the process, which falls entirely on the Communist Party of Cuba and the mass organizations that are constitutionally subordinated to it.


The report also addresses the impossibility to access the official information of the electoral organization. The website of the National Electoral Council (CEN) does not have basic information such as the composition of its board of directors or the boards of directors of the provincial or municipal Electoral Councils, the budget and the execution of expenses or the location of the voting centers, among others.


The lack of conditions for electoral observation, accompaniment or monitoring exercises is highlighted. On the Island, not only is this figure not foreseen, but it is criminalized. This explains why it ranks in the last place in the index of the situation of electoral observation in Latin America.


The electoral campaign has a special mention. Although it is “excluded” according to the Electoral Law, the elite of the Communist Party of Cuba has used all State resources, official media and institutional and personal accounts in social networks to campaign for approval.


In fact, the report has a contribution from Probox’s Digital Observatory that gives an account of the sophisticated actions of the Cuban government and the cooperation with those of Venezuela and Nicaragua to artificially set trends on Twitter.


It also addresses the situation of the more than two million Cubans who are in the diaspora and who by law have no political rights due to the “effective residence” requirement; which takes away their right to vote. The fact is even more serious if one takes into account that more than 150,000 Cubans have entered the United States in the last 10 months.


The report will be presented via webinar in the coming days and will be made available to media and civil society organizations. DemoAmlat will then present a second report in the week prior to the referendum.

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