Cuba: Cholera’s back

New cases of cholera reported in the interior of the island; nomination period closes for representation at the National Assembly of People’s Power.

Cholera’s back… or did it never go away? 

Just four weeks after the Cuban Ministry of Public Health announced the eradication of cholera on the island, independent and dissident journalists reported new cases in Granma province and in areas west of Havana this week.

Miami-based El Nuevo Herald reported that Roberto González, a dissident based in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, said local health officials confirmed two dozen confirmed cases of cholera in the city of San Luis over the past two weeks, and up to 102 suspected cases. Sources also reported 19 confirmed cases and one death from cholera in the western province of Pinar del Río.

Café Fuerte reports that local television in Granma confirmed that nine cases had been reported in that province on Wednesday. However, no mention of the renewed outbreak has been mentioned in the country’s print media.

Diario de Cuba reports that government regulations meant to curb the spread of cholera are having an effect on the country’s self-employed as well, with officials outlawing the sale of granizado, or flavoured crushed ice, on the streets of Havana.

On 28 August the Cuban government announced the eradication of cholera on the island, with 417 confirmed cases and three fatalities. No official news has been published on the outbreak since then.

Last week, the government arrested independent Cuban journalist Calixto Martínez Arias for reporting on cases of cholera over the summer before they were acknowledged by the government. This week Reporters without Borders joined the call from a number of other international organisations for his immediate release.

Nomination period for municipal elections ends

Nominations for Cuba’s municipal elections for delegates to the National Assembly of  People’s Power ended on Saturday with more than 29,000 candidates nominated. Candidates were nominated in 50,963 meetings held in the country’s 14,537 electoral districts since the process began in early September.

Any Cuban citizen over the age of 16 can be nominated, and each district must nominate at least two but no more than eight candidates. Representatives will go on to represent their electoral district in the National Assembly, which meets twice annually to approve laws or amend the Constitution.

Communist Party newspaper Granma reported that 35% of the nominated candidates were women, and 19% are between the ages of 16 and 35. At the Party Conference in January, officials agreed to work to increase the participation of women, minorities, and young people in government positions.

Voter lists were also published last week in the relevant districts. A total of 8.5 million Cubans out of a national population of 11 million are eligible to vote.

Elections will be held on 21 October, and a second round will be held on 28 October for any elections in which one candidate does not achieve 50% of the vote in their district.

As dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez reports on the elections, candidates are not permitted to campaign and voters are not allowed to ask candidates their positions on relevant issues. As Cuba is a one-party state, all representative will represent the Communist Party.