Discontent Grows in Cuba With a New Record of Blackouts

Havana, which until a few days ago was free of blackouts, is now suffering from them every day / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2024 — The power blackouts in Cuba are reaching a record never seen in recent years. On Friday, the official press itself reported, “there was a deficit of electricity generation for 24 hours, and it has not been possible to restore the power this morning.” The maximum recorded yesterday, 1,566 megawatts at the time of maximum demand, is unprecedented since the energy crisis escalated two years ago.

For Saturday, the outlook is not much better: an availability of 1,600 MW and a demand of 2,550, which means an average impact of 1,300 MW.

The figures included in the statement of the UNE (Electric Union of Cuba) speak for themselves: 85 distributed generation plants, plus the Moa fuel plant and the Santiago de Cuba plant are out of service due to lack of fuel. There are also 16 plants “with low coverage.”

Thus, the citizens are desperate, and rumors of demonstrations run throughout the Island. The SEN (National Energy System) barely exceeded 1,000 MW when, in August 2022, mass protests broke out in Nuevitas, Camagüey.

“I imagine that those poor people who had only two hours of power must be on the verge of suicide”

The repression unleashed after the demonstrations – similar to what happened on 11 July 2021 – may explain why for the moment, the frustration is only expressed in complaints on social networks. One of the posts that asked users about the place and time of the power outages was immediately followed by hundreds of comments.

“Four hours with power and twenty without,” said one of them, corroborated in some areas of the Island, such as Santiago de Cuba, by the official newspaper Sierra Maestra.

In Güines, Mayabeque, another commentator said that the power had been missing this Friday “since 8 at night, and still nothing. We had 12 hours without power and yesterday only 3 hours during the day.” In the same province, in San José de las Lajas, the power went off at 5 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon, and after two hours it went off again for 10 more hours. In Sancti Spíritus, there were places with up to 14 hours of blackouts.

The complaints cover the entire national territory. In Bayamo, Granma, people also reported 14 hours of blackout; in Minas, Camagüey, up to 18 consecutive hours. In the municipality of Céspedes in Camagüey, a neighbor complained: “From yesterday until now they gave us three hours of power. They only put it on from 2 to 6 in the morning; let’s see if they put it on when no one is cooking or awake.”

Havana, which until a few days ago was free of the power cuts, now suffers from them on a daily basis. Four hours in a row of no power is predicted, for example, in the municipality of Nuevo Vedado, where the editorial staff of this newspaper is located.

“These blackouts make life miserable, but I really can’t complain,” concedes a woman living in Central Havana. “The power has been off for several hours two days in a row, and the water pump in the building didn’t allow the water to fill the tank enough for me to wash. I imagine that those poor people who had only two hours of power must be on the verge of suicide.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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