14ymedio, Havana, 19 August 2022 — A power outage left all of Havana in the dark on Thursday night. Shortly after 9:00 pm and neighborhood by neighborhood, the Cuban capital went out, with a few exceptions: Diez de Octubre, San Miguel, Cerro, Central Havana, Old Havana, Beach, Marianao, Boyeros. From the 14th floor of the editorial office of this newspaper, the panorama was as impressive as a satellite image of North Korea at night.
Not even government offices, such as those located in the Plaza de la Revolución, nor emblematic places, like the Capitol, La Cabaña or El Morro, were lit. And areas where, until now, they hadn’t taken away their power, such as neighborhoods near hospitals, were also without electricity.
Around 10:00 pm, the Electric Union of Cuba (UNE) communicated what all Havanans knew: that a large part of the municipalities in the capital were “affected without electricity service.” Likewise, it clarified that “this impact on electricity service” was not related to “the energy deficit and scheduled blackouts” and that the causes were being investigated. The UNE had no idea what had happened, and that was very worrying.
Under normal conditions, a technician knowledgeable about the energy system explains to 14ymedio, the electricity company has a way of knowing in real time where a breakdown happens and, therefore, what caused it.
“However,” he ventures to say, “if the three sources of power in Havana are turned off, they have no way of knowing where the breakdown is or what happened, because if everything goes down, everything goes out.” And he says: “Something serious, but really serious, happened there.”
Once service was restored, two hours later, the UNE said that the problem had been due to “a breakdown in the 110 kV [kilovolt, high voltage] lines, which affected several substations that feed an important part of the city.”
The explanation didn’t satisfy the citizens’ suspicion. Sources for this newspaper also reported blackouts in Varadero, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba.
“I don’t remember a blackout of this magnitude without a hurricane,” said a concerned neighbor in Central Havana, where you could hear the distinctive racket of children playing outside the tenements and buildings.
Comments on Telegram in response to the brief statement of the UNE were limited, but some managed to express their indignation. “Everyone to the street! Cuba is one big block of poverty,” said the user Dama Bautista.
In fact, from the isolated screams in the middle of the night, it was inferred that many habaneros had their pots and pans ready to bang on in the midst of the darkness. Luyanó was the only place where, so far, some neighbors have carried out a protest, as reported in videos on social networks.
From the black beret patrols [Army Special Forces] that sources from San Antonio de los Baños report to this newspaper having seen “looking for a road to Havana,” it’s understood that the fear of a saucepan demonstration in the capital was spreading among the authorities.
Before that happened, and while crazy rumors about the leaders’ flight from the country began to circulate on social networks, around 11:00 pm the light returned.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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