14ymedio, Havana, September 21, 2021 — After so many articles about “improved maintenance at the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, after so many promises,” this is what they come out with. That was the reaction of one customer, Valette, to an announcement that most of central Cuba would be without power starting at 5:24 on Tuesday. Yes, there will be more blackouts.
After a breakdown at the country’s main electric power facility (CTE), Cubans’ patience is running thin. “Shame on them,” was the response of Hanoi, one of the customers affected. “All these outages over the past two months; they haven’t kept their eye on the ball,” he says. What the Electric Union (UNE) is good at, according to this customer, is “turning off the power right when you need it” and “charging full price for it on the electricity bill.”
Just last Monday the State newspaper Granma reported that Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz had visited Matanzas to tour CTE Antonio Guiteras. “The situation will be getting better every month,” he claimed. Without providing exact figures, he stated that large sums of money had been allocated for the purchase of replacement parts.
Relief was fleeting, however. At 04:09 AM on Tuesday the facility was synchronized with the National Electroenergetic System and seventy-five minutes later it went down due to “relative vibrations in the turbine shaft.”
A surge of complaints on social media followed blackouts which lasted more than ten hours in Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Hoguin. “Ten-hour blackouts in Santiago de Cuba,” tweeted journalist Geisy Guia Delis along with a photo of her three-year-old niece sleeping in a crib on the front porch at dawn because the blackouts last for hours and always happen at night.
Lina, another customer affected by blackouts, feels there is no justification for the problems: “UNE did not provide [aluminum and copper] to maintain the poles… When are they going to tell the truth about these disruptions?”
Meanwhile, Alexander Pupo Casas, the doctor who contracted Covid-19 and decided to quarantine at home before turning himself over to State Security, sent out an #SOSCuba tweet. “Blackouts in the midst of a public health and epidemiological crisis indicate a lack of respect for and insensitivity to the public. The totalitarian communist mafia doesn’t even allow us to rest.”
In addition to the CTE Antonio Guiteras, service has been disrupted at the following facilities:
- CTE Otto Parellada
- Unit 7 at CTE Maximo Gomez
- Unit 1 at CTE Ernesto Guevara
- Unit 6 at CTE Tenth of October
- Unit 2 at CTE Lidio Ramon Perez
- Unit 3 at CTE Antonio Maceo
The island can look forward to more blackouts. In another social media post, Irma reported experiencing blackouts every seven hours, from 3:00 AM till 7:00 AM. “It’s extremely difficult for people who have to watch for a light to feed their families, especially the little ones. Most people use only electricity for cooking,” she says.
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