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Re: A Nov. 18 letter to the editor comparing the U.S. and Cuba election systems. The U.S. electoral system is imperfect and sometimes sloppy, but elections in the United States are about contesting power and competing political parties. This does not exist in Cuba. Cuba’s last competitive and free national election was a parliamentary election held on June 1, 1950.

Cuba’s last democratic president, Carlos Prio Socarras, was elected by Cubans on July 1, 1948. On March 10, 1952, Fulgencio Batista staged a coup against President Prio that ended Cuban democracy and established a military dictatorship. This opened the path for something worse in 1959. Castro’s totalitarian dictatorship has ruled Cuba with an iron fist for 61 years.

The letter writer omits some important details.

Cuba’s national assembly is a rubber stamp parliament that unanimously approves the edicts of the Council of Ministers and its maximum authority, the head of the Communist Party, Raul Castro.

The latest version of the Cuban constitution (2019) continues to systematically violate the rights of Cubans and recognizes only one legal political party — the Communist Party. However, even within the Communist Party there is not a competitive process. Cubans “get” to approve the 605 pre-selected candidates with no other option.

Also, independent poll watching, although legal on paper, in practice poll watchers are harassed and jailed. During the 2019 constitutional referendum they were targeted by secret police and at least one Cuban, Eliecer Góngora Izaguirre, was separated from his family and deported to Guyana by officials who told him not to return.

Finally, independent civil society is not officially recognized in Cuba. Human rights groups, and opposition parties, independent of the dictatorship are illegal. Students and teachers that do not hue to the Party line are removed from schools.

The letter writer compared two electoral systems, but 2 million Cubans also have, voting with their feet, for the USA.

John Suarez

Falls Church, Va.

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