A Pharmacy in Holguín Is Stoned in Protest Against 15-Hour Blackouts

TRD Latin America in the Alex Urquiola distribution in Holguín / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Holguín, Miguel García, 14 March 2024 — Popular discontent with the long blackouts is at the origin of several protests in the city of Holguín, where this Tuesday a pharmacy located at the intersection of Martí and Fomento streets was stoned. The event was confirmed to this newspaper by local sources, who also pointed out that last Thursday morning, the old Latin America foreign currency store in the La Colorá neighborhood had its windows broken.

This type of event, in addition to the cacerolazos — demonstrations where people beat on pots and pans — and an increase in police surveillance, are increasingly frequent in areas that experience the worst of the energy crisis, as reported by 14ymedio previously. Holguín is one of the provinces where long blackouts occur, which can last up to 15 hours in a single day.

A resident of the Alcides Pino popular council told this newspaper that since the power outages began, “incidents expressing discontent occur almost daily. They haven’t spilled into the streets, but there’s no shortage of cacerolazos when there’s no power. The discontent is widespread.”

As for the stores with broken windows, he says that the authorities have not stood idly by. “They are sending police and red berets (special security) at night to guard the foreign currency stores to prevent people from breaking windows. It’s not the first time that’s happened in Holguín,” he adds.

“There are also many patrols making rounds in the city and on Carralero Street”

“There are also many patrols making rounds in the city, on Carralero Street and in the Dagoberto Sanfield neighborhood, where one of the senior police commanders lives. In addition here are other military personnel, and there is always a patrol keeping watch as soon as night falls,” says the holguinero.

A woman in Holguín interviewed by 14ymedio asserts that, in addition, the long blackouts prevent the normal operation of any work center and are an obstacle to procedures of any kind. “My husband has been standing in line at the offices of the Ministry of the Interior for four days to change the official route for our pedicab, and he has not been able to, because when it’s his turn, the current goes off and service is interrupted,” she says.

“Life becomes difficult in many ways when the current goes off. There are parents who are not sending their children to school because, between the coming and going, the power goes out two or three times in the early hours of the morning, and neither they nor their children can sleep (without an electric fan). Not to mention the food. I know people who have chosen to cook with wood in the face of blackouts of more than 15 hours,” she says.

The other aggravating thing is that, “despite having so many hours of blackout, the cost of electricity continues to rise. It’s inconceivable!” she emphasizes. Last year, the official newspaper Ahora! published the results of a survey based on the complaints of many people in Holguin about the increase in their bills during July and August, despite power outages of 12 hours or more.

Latin America foreign currency store in the Alex Urquiola neighborhood in Holguín / 14ymedio

The response of the Electric Company at that time was that after the restoration of the current, when equipment is connected – mainly refrigeration – the consumption increases.

The holguinera also says that in some state centers there are on-call workers, as well as heads of the National Police Sector and State Security agents, “ready to take to the streets and repress.” The “order,” she explains, is to put down any demonstrations that expresses dissatisfaction with the regime.

On March 9, the cacerolazos began in Holguín after several days of power outages. The Manuel Angulo dental clinic in Pueblo Nuevo in the main municipality was stoned, and hours later it was under guard by State Security.

At the same time, another demonstration in the municipality of Florida, in Camagüey, managed to get the authorities to restore service, but not before assuring that everything remained “calm” in the neighborhood.

* Errata: Initially, the information reached 14ymedio’s Editorial Office and the testimonies on the ground spoke of stoning of the exterior windows of the Martí y Fomento Pharmacy, but on another visit to the place and thanks to the warning from our readers, we confirmed that, in that case, it had been an accident in which a car hit the windows.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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