Voting Without Election: The Cuban Regime’s Tweeting Campaign In The 2023 Legislative Elections.

Voting Without Election: The Cuban Regime’s Tweeting Campaign In The 2023 Legislative Elections.

Published on 11 Apr 2023

Between February 1 and March 31, we recorded 31 trends positioned on Twitter in Cuba about the "National Elections 2023".

Publication in alliance between DemoAmlat and ProBox

On March 26, the national “elections” were held in Cuba to renew the National Assembly of People’s Power which, according to official data, registered the highest abstention in this type of elections since 1976: only 75.92% of the electoral roll voted, which, according to DemoAmlat, means that at least 1 in 4 Cubans did not participate in the electoral process, despite the fact that local electoral monitors claim that the abstention figure is much higher.

From ProBox, a non-profit organization in charge of fighting and denouncing disinformation in social networks, we were able to identify 31 hashtags positioned as trending on Twitter in Cuba about this process between February 1st and March 31st, accumulating around 1,223,481 tweets. Like the “candidacies”, all these trends were promoted by the Cuban regime and one of its main communicational allies: the Venezuelan government.

The first hashtag on this topic positioned in Twitter trends in Cuba was registered on February 5, #MejorEsPosible (better is possible), in which several members of the Communist Party of Cuba promoted messages about the “candidate nomination assemblies” or their election as candidates of a specific area, as was the case of Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.

Precisely, #MejorEsPosible was the most repeated hashtag within this electoral conversation, trending at least 5 times and grouping more than 400 thousand messages as a whole; on average at least 62.95% of them were made in a coordinated and inauthentic way or by possible bots.

The second most relevant hashtag between February 1st and March 31st was #YoVotoXTodos (I vote for all), which was positioned 3 times and grouped the highest number of tweets of the electoral conversation with 584,614 approximately; 500,000 of these were generated on March 26th itself, during the electoral process, when #YoVotoXTodos also reached the trends in Venezuela.

Miguel Díaz-Canel was one of the actors who promoted #MejorEsPosible and #YoVotoXTodos every time it was positioned as a trend, and even included them in his messages almost on a daily basis from February 5 until election day.

Venezuela’s role in Cuban electoral propaganda

On several occasions we have verified the cooperation between Cuba and Venezuela to promote and amplify narratives of these regimes on Twitter, Cuba’s legislative voting was no exception.

On March 26 the hashtag #YoVotoXTodos was trending in Cuba for the third time but for the first time it was also positioned in Venezuela. We used the open source tool Hoaxy to complement our observatory data, identifying how accounts of Cuban Medical Missions in Venezuela stand out among the main ones in generating interactions with the electoral hashtags.

Analyzing a sample of 12,449 interactions (mentions, retweets, replies and quoted tweets) around #YoVotoXTodos, we found that tweets from the account “Cuban Medical Mission in Venezuela” (@cubacooperaven) received the most interactions with 2. 968; followed by messages from the account of the -Cuban Medical Mission in Venezuela in Bolivar state” (@Cubacooperabol2) with 661 and the account “Brigada Médica Salvador Allende Chuao” (@MedicaChuao, also identified as part of the Cuban Medical Mission) which received at least 490 interactions. This is not the only trend on the topic with Venezuelan participation.

The hashtag #VotoUnido (united vote) was positioned 3 times in the last two months, when analyzing a sample of 11,770 interactions, Díaz-Canel’s account stands out with 353 interactions, followed by the account “CubacooperaLGU” (@LguCubacoopera, identified as “Cuban Medical Mission In La Guaira State Venezuela”) with 279 interactions and the account of the Communist Party of Cuba with 245.

This reaffirms the use of Cuban Medical Mission accounts from Venezuela to spread Díaz-Canel’s digital propaganda on Twitter, due to the inauthentic coordination of accounts; also interfering with the internal conversation of the country by positioning Venezuelan trends.

What happened during and after the electoral process on Twitter?

Among the trends that were positioned on March 26 in Cuba was #EleccionesNacionales2023 (national elections 2023), promoted mainly by the National Electoral Council (CEN); when analyzing 10,301 interactions around this tag through Hoaxy we found that precisely the official account of the CEN received the highest number with 1,823, followed by the Cuba Debate account with 452 interactions and the official account of the Presidency of Cuba with 443.

To these are added #CubaVotaUnida (Cuba votes united), #MejorEsPosible (better is possible) and a campaign against economic sanctions promoted by the Foreign Ministry with #MejorSinBloqueo (better without blockage).

After the results of the voting, in which, according to the regime through the National Electoral College, 75.92% of voters participated, the hashtag #CubaGanó (Cuba won) was positioned, which was repeated in the trends until March 30, accumulating at least 125,500 tweets.

The narrative of this trend achieved a diversion of how impossible it would be to have that level of participation since most of the voting centers have only one polling station.

It is worth noting that the hashtag #CubaGanó has also been used by the Cuban regime in view of the verdict of the London Trial. Another ruse of the regime to divert attention since the trial was not won by the State, but the verdict exempts from paying “the Government” but not the National Bank of Cuba which is wholly owned by the regime.

On March 27, due to reports from election observers about the lack of transparency and democracy in the process, Diaz-Canel promoted the hashtag #NosResbala (we don’t care), talking about the lack of importance and credibility of “the criteria” to talk about the process because “they disrespect and underestimate the Cuban people”.

Why are they not elections?

In Cuba people vote, but they do not elect. During the last decades, people have been summoned to the polls to endorse the candidacies pre-selected by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and not to choose among a wide range of parties, candidates and programs, as it happens in democratic regimes.

In this way, ordinary people cannot influence the political affairs of their country, which is a right enshrined in international instruments for the protection of human rights, since decision-making positions are reserved for members of the single party.

The electoral system is designed to maintain the hegemony of the PCC, which according to the Constitution is “unique, Martiano, Fidelista, Marxist and Leninist…superior leading political force of society and the State” and “organizes and orients the common efforts in the construction of socialism and the advance towards a communist society”.

Also in its Article 4 it states that the socialist system contemplated in the Constitution “is irrevocable” and that “citizens have the right to fight by all means, including armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone who attempts to overthrow the political, social and economic order established by this Constitution”.

So people cannot organize themselves into parties to contest political power, and even those who would dare to challenge the socialist system can be (justifiably) victims of armed violence.

Therefore, in Cuba one votes, but there is no possibility of choosing, since the single party has decided in advance, taking away the sovereignty of the people, who cannot freely express their preferences.

A body called the “National Nominations Commission” and made up of the well-known “mass organizations” subordinated to the PCC (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution -organism in charge of surveillance at the neighborhood level-, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Federation of High School Students and the Federation of University Students) is in charge of “selecting” the candidates to be presented on a single list for the elections.

On March 26th, elections were held for the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP), Cuba’s legislative body, which naturally only has representation from the PCC. In these “elections” the National Nominations Commission presented 470 candidates for 470 seats, so the process only served to endorse the selection made by the party.

In such a way that the body that should represent a plural, complex society with diverse demands, is co-opted by the single party that has hijacked power for decades.

To learn more about the nature of the Cuban electoral system, click here.

If you would like to listen to a summary report of this research, we invite you to listen to our Cuba Audio Report, here.

Go to all articles
  • Other related contents

  • 01

    The power machine: how Maduro weaves his propaganda network

    Although Maduro was officially declared a candidate in March 2024, he has been promoting his reelection since 2023.

    Read more
  • 02

    In Cuba, violence is reported on Facebook

    Increase in violent crime on the island is registered on social media

    Read more
  • 03

    Misogyny advances in the shadow of social media trends

    Internet fuels new forms of misogyny

    Read more
  • 04

    Food online: in Cuba food arrives through the Internet

    Online sales are an option in the face of food shortages, although it is not viable for everyone.

    Read more
  • 05

    #CubaSinRepresión: The island is still in protest

    Human Rights organizations fight for the release of political prisoners

    Read more
  • 06

    Facebook: the portal for reporting traffic accidents in Cuba

    Faced with the opacity of traditional media, citizens report in social media platforms

    Read more
  • Subscribe

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter