Protest Breaks Out at the University of Camaguey After More Than 10 Hours Without Electricity

Officials tried to appease residents who protested Tuesday night. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 15 June 2022 — After more than 10 hours without power, the residents of the central campus of the Ignacio Agramonte University, in Camagüey, exploded this Tuesday night in a protest that circulated through social networks and led to the intervention of the center’s management, even to the point of restoring the service.

According to different sources, last night’s blackout was part of the power cuts programmed due to the country’s precarious energy situation, and it was compounded by faults in the circuit that increased the usual time that the power was out. But in addition, the cuts are affecting the water supply and the residents cannot even bathe. Around 7 pm yesterday, the students couldn’t take it anymore and rushed to the door of the building, shouting for the electricity to be restored.

The First Vice Chancellor, Julio Madera Quintana, and other university authorities went to the scene to talk with the students and by around 11 p.m. the protest had calmed down after the electricity service was restored.

After the videos circulating on social networks with the demands of the residents, who sang loudly “turn on the current, pinga*” and “water and current,” professors and officials of the University Student Federation (FEU) and the Young Communist League ( UJC) made an effort to show images of the venue with light, adding that everything was calm after maintaining a constructive dialogue with the students. In some cases, the “counterrevolution” was even accused of using the protest to “manipulate” and “distort” what happened.

Several students affirmed that the protest had no political overtones and that they were simply tired of not having the most basic supplies available, but the networks continued to be abuzz with comments about it and the discomfort is far from appeasing.

“It really is disrespectful that we scholarship students have to go to other places outside the residence to be able to bathe or simply wash our mouths because we don’t have water to be able to do everyday things. We waste time and time lost is money, time where we won’t be able to study,” protested a resident.

“We are asking to live with more dignity. I am a witness of the 15 hours without power and the days without water, today not even to drink,” claimed another.

The residents of Camagüey, aware of how they are experiencing the last few weeks without electricity, supported the protest with a multitude of messages. “This is how an entire country is: unmotivated, tired and fatigued by widespread misery. I’ve had a blackout for 11 hours today!” Said an Internet user.

“If they don’t make a scandal, they leave them like this. We’re already going for 14 hours,” said another.

A few hours earlier, President Miguel Díaz-Canel had made reference to the “difficult economic situation” affecting the country at a party meeting in which he spoke about inflation, shortages and energy problems.

“The blackouts are going to continue in the coming days,” insisted the president, who last month had said that by the end of May the situation would have improved. “The precision with which we report the programming of these blackouts and the speed with which we are able to warn of any unforeseen situation that occurs is important, so that people have the ability to maneuver and reorder their lives,” he said.

“In the midst of such an adverse situation, it would be irresponsible to say that the results are going to come suddenly, but what we are sure of is that the results, even if they are slow, are going to come because a lot of work is being done,” the president promised. which, however, did nothing more than call for voluntarism without proposing practical solutions.

The president once again blamed US sanctions for all the problems affecting the country. “We can assure our people that what this whole situation is most caused by today is the intensification of the [American] blockade [in reality, the embargo], which remains permanent, remains untouchable. These damages are not caused by negligence, or carelessness, or because there is an intention to annoy or not attend to every problem,” he said.

But the reactions to the news of the protests in Camagüey reveal that the official discourse no longer resonates with the population as intended.

“They do not realize that their mechanisms are obsolete, that the system has not just started because it is not putting a heart into it, it is putting a brain in it, which has been missing for a long time. And it will be expanding throughout the Island. The most illiterate can see that. You cannot live in miserable conditions in which those up there enjoy perks and throw parties at full speed. Understand that the youth is in charge and wants to advance. Not with the guidance of the dinosaurs who think of the cold war and left their heart and the brain in the 20th century. And with the heat as it is, plus the scarcity or total absence of products… That is the perfect formula that you, and nobody else, have created. The fuse was the ’Ordering Task’**, which the Americans didn’t bring,” commented a reader of the university media, Alma Mater.

Translator’s notes:
*’Pinga’ is literally an obscenity meaning ’penis’ — in this context substitute your own preferred English obscenity for exclamations such as this.
**Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy. 

____________

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.