Will he or won't he?
You see, the first major task of the 614 newly selected deputies when they meet on 24 February will be to pick the members of the Council of State, including its president, who automatically becomes head of State.
Under the Constitution introduced by Castro in the mid 1970s, the 31-member Council of State is supposed to be the paramount policy-making body in the nation, representing the will of the people, etc, etc.
In reality, it is largely meaningless since all the real decisions are (and have always been) made by the Politburo of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), which is run by the Castro brothers.
It’s exactly the same Marxist-Leninist model that operated in the old Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, with the decisions made in PCC head office then dutifully rubber-stamped by the Council of State.
So, the most interesting question is not whether Castro remains head of the Council of State (he has held the position since 1976), but whether he remains First Secretary of the PCC which, by the way, has not had a congress since 1997.
Still, it’s fun to watch senior figures of the regime continuing to play these farcical games with the international media, which should know better.
In recent days, we have had all the usual suspects – Carlos Lage, Ricardo Alarcon, Felipe Perez Roque – confirming that if Fidel Castro stands for the position of president of the Council of State, then, why, of course, they will vote for him. With both hands!
However, there appears to have been a slight shift in the rhetoric lately, at least from Ricardo Alarcon, who goes by the grand title of president of the National Assembly and who also happens to be a member of the PCC Politburo.
According to this brief item in The New York Times, Alarcon has now “expressed uncertainty” over whether Castro will accept the post of president of the Council of State again.
“It’s obvious that he has been very successful in the recovery process,” he said. “But he has the right to say yes or no.”