After the Protests in Baracoa Cuba’s Electric Union Claims to Have a Strategy Against the ‘Annoying Blackouts’

The terrible internet connection prevented the people of Baracoa from publishing more information about the demonstration on their social networks / Cubalex

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 18 , 2024 — The general director of Cuba’s Electric Union, Alfredo López, told the official State newspaper Granma this Friday afternoon that he had a plan to “attenuate the annoying blackouts.” The strategy, which includes a partial increase in generation capacity and reconnecting several thermoelectric units, aims to have an anesthetic effect after the outbreak of protests over the energy situation on Thursday night in Baracoa.

The terrible internet connection – already burdened by blackouts and lowered to a minimum when there are riots – prevented the people of Baracoa from publishing more information about what was happening on their social networks. Poor connectivity also prevented a larger number of protesters from receiving a summons. However, several recordings of the demonstrations managed to reach the internet.

The protest immediately mobilized local authorities and the official Guantánamo press, which have begun a campaign to “unite” the people. “As Fidel taught us. The leaders together with the people, in the most difficult moments,” Lorian Milhet Fuentes, leader of the Communist Party (PCC) of Baracoa, published on his Facebook profile this Friday, attaching to his message a photo where officials appear supposedly listening to a resident who complains in the middle of a blackout.

On the same social network, other pro-government profiles released several videos where some people appear calling on the people not to protest. “I think we should unite, but not in this way, unite to, together, look for an alternative to the situation that the municipality, well and the country, is having, and I think that the solution is not this, demonstrations, the solution is to look for alternatives for ’How can we give food to the children’,” said an unidentified woman in one of the Facebook posts.

In a second video, another woman demanded that the people must understand the “critical situation” that the country is going through. “We don’t have dollars to buy oil, what we have is to unite and each one of us, in the jobs we do, do better every day.”

The Municipal Assembly of Popular Power, one of the official pages that shared videos calling for the “unity that characterizes Baracoa,” shared this Friday a post from the local Primada Visión telecenter where it is stated that the PCC leadership in the territory agreed to “increase the sale of food products and other energy sources for cooking food in the population.”

Havana was slow to respond and only the next day, in Granma, did López reveal what specific measures the Unión Eléctrica planned to take in response to the situation. The core of the problem, it said, is the contrast between growing demand – as summer approaches, appliances are used more – and insufficient generation capacity. The difference between these two factors has left, in recent days, a significant deficit, which this Friday was 1,300 megawatts.

After justifying the endless “maintenance cycles” of the thermoelectric plants, López assured that units six and eight of the Máximo Gómez plant, in Mariel, and block six of Nuevitas, in Camagüey, will be reconnected to the National Electric System. López regretted that the current average length of the frequent and often daily blackouts was between 12 and 16 hours throughout the Island.

The problems do not end, he admitted. In Mariel alone, a “steam leak” in an extremely dangerous area caused two blocks of the plant to go offline. Similar breakdowns hamper the energy generation of Nuevitas and, in general, the other plants.

Families are the ones who bear the brunt of it. In the east of the country, where recent protests have broken out over long blackouts – the most important of which occurred last March, in Santiago de Cuba – the situation has reached rock bottom, fueled by shortages. Residents of Baracoa told 14ymedio that, of the basic family food basket that had to be sold through the rationing system at the beginning of the month, it was only on May 15 that a pound of rice and another of sugar began to be distributed in the bodegas (ration stores).

“I had to buy charcoal to be able to cook for the children because the blackouts extend for more hours every day,” a mother living in the municipal seat told this newspaper.


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