In Cuba, Electricity is Gradually Returning to the Areas Near Hospitals

First lights in Havana at dawn this Thursday as seen from the editorial office of this newspaper. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 September 29, 2022 — The 14ymedio newsroom woke up in the dark for the second day in a row this Thursday. From the windows on the 14th floor of the building you could see small areas in the municipalities of Cerro and Old Havana with light, but none in Playa and El Vedado.

Taking advantage of the darkness, state workers rushed this Wednesday to erase the graffiti that appeared on a facade of Prado and Neptune that read “Díaz-Canel, singao” [motherfucker]! A few miles away, the lights were on in the tower of the Plaza de la Revolución.

The lights turned on little by little in the areas that have a hospital nearby, classified as priorities by the government. The first publication of the morning made by the Electric Union of Cuba (UNE) on its social networks showed several workers lifting a pole next to a hospital in Pinar del Río.

The situation of the UNE remains precarious. According to its latest report, the east of the country is beginning to improve with the start of block 1 of the Felton thermoelectric plant and block 6 of the Nuevitas power plant. In the western area, progress is being made with the restart of the Mariel, Tallapiedra and Santa Cruz plants, while hundreds of brigades from different provinces are working to repair the damaged lines.

The activation of the Matanzas power plant has allowed the light to come on, although not with 100% coverage, according to the UNE, in the  provinces of Holguín and Las Tunas to a great extent, and in Camagüey and Santiago in a less widespread way. The forecast is that once the eastern and western regions have been repaired and the circuits certified, the interconnection can begin advancing towards the center of the Island, and the entire national network will be connected in the course of the day.

But the UNE also says that it must balance the load generation to calculate the amount and its distribution. “Before [hurricane] Ian we didn’t have enough generation capacity and that hasn’t changed. We have to analyze the coverage, which will not be 100% when it’s restored,” they warn.

The experiences that come through social networks speak for themselves. The precariousness of the infrastructure, after Ian’s onslaught, has left the national electricity capacity at a minimum, and citizens no longer know if power will return, whether due to the collapse of the network or because a blackout is scheduled in their area.

A Cuban woman from La Vigía in the province of Camagüey claimed that they spent 30 hours without power, and finally, in the early hours of the morning, they received two hours of light, but it went off again, and they already had spent more than five hours in the dark. In the same province, in the town of Minas, customers complained that they had been without power for 48 hours.

The discomfort reaches Holguín, where the population exploded last night in a demonstration. “In my area we went more than 30 hours without power,” a woman tells 14ymedio. “I heard the neighborhood near me banging on pots and pans; you could hear that cacerolazo from far away. A while later they were silent. I don’t know where the protests went, but in my neighborhood there was a lot of banging,” she says.

The protest began around 8 p.m., but most of the neighbors couldn’t record it due to lack of a charge on their mobile phones. In spite of everything, some videos reached social networks. “Then we saw a patrol and engines pass by,” continues the resident of Holguín, who lives near a hospital, and around 9:30 in the morning the power finally arrived. “I don’t know how long it will last,” she says with resignation.

Despite not being one of the provinces hit by the hurricane, some people from Holguín say that they spent more than 35 hours without light until this morning, when they began to receive power. “What’s happening on the Island is really distressing, with the fear that the piece of meat you saved in your refrigerator for the children will be spoiled. Everything is very, very sad, and hopeless,” lamented another woman.

In Jagüey and Jatibonico, both in Sancti Spíritus, residents woke up again without an iota of power. It was the same in Placetas, Villa Clara, and in Quivicán, Mayabeque. Even from Santiago de Cuba, which the storm didn’t hit, complaints arrive from UNE customers who have been without electricity since the early hours of Tuesday.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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