Elections for Cuban Parliament kick off
Elian Gonzalez's father, President Fidel Castro, an Olympic track medalist and a popular folk singer are on the ballot for Cuba's parliament in Sunday elections.
Candidates for the 609 seats run unopposed, leading critics to complain elections on the communist island are meaningless. A recent pro-democracy petition, signed by thousands of Cubans, requested election reforms but was ignored by the government.
Castro - a member of the unicameral National Assembly along with being president for over four decades - claims the country's vote is more democratic than those of other nations because voter turnout is high and campaigns do not involve extensive amounts of money and propaganda.
This year, Castro urged Cuba's more than 8 million voters to go to the polls and vote "united" for all candidates listed on their ballots, according to The Associated Press.
The ballots only contain names of candidates for that particular district. Voters can mark or leave blank the circle next to each candidate, but this year there is an additional circle for a united vote ballot, signifying support for all the district's candidates.
"An energetic and resounding victory is needed to show the enemy our force and unity," Castro said Saturday on state television.
A first round of balloting in October elected members of Cuba's municipal assemblies. Fifty percent of the parliamentary candidates on the Sunday ballots were chosen from municipal assembly members.
The other half include many nationally known figures, such as Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of Elian, the Cuban boy at the center of the international child custody battle in 2000. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)