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175 Cuban dissidents tried to run for office. Here's how Castro's government reacted.

Nora Gamez Torres, El Nuevo Herald on

Published in News & Features

In the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, none of the residents of one building were notified about their district's gathering because they were all going to vote for an independent would-be candidate, said Cuesta Morua.

"In other cases, they posted police and State Security agents around the places where the nominating councils were to be held to intimidate the neighbors," he added.

"I was surprised that the government worked so hard to prevent any of the Otro18 candidates from even being nominated," LeoGrande said. "Diaz-Canel's video indicates that the state was very concerned about these candidates, and I think it indicates a realization of how much discontent there is at the grassroots in Cuba."

Candidatos por el Cambio also complained about the government's decision to postpone the balloting from October to November to avoid interfering with the work to recover from Hurricane Irma. Dissidents said the delay was designed to allow time for tempers to cool, because of the snail's pace of recovery.

The government's attempt to sell articles that had been donated for hurricane relief, the delays in assistance deliveries to some heavily affected areas and the fact that neither Castro nor Diaz-Canel ever toured those areas generated "discomfort among the people," said Felix Yuniel Llerena, a Baptist church activist in western Cuba.

"The problems are growing sharper," Llerena said. The next round of balloting "could see a lower turnout, more abstentions, votes left blank or voided."

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