The Lack of Electricity Paralyzes Businesses and Life in Matanzas, Cuba

Small businesses dedicated to the food trade are others are affected, and the annoyance of their owners who, in addition to income, lose part of their merchandise, is increasing .

Products that need to be refrigerated lose quality in the absence of electricity / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Julio César Contreras, Matanzas, 14 May 2024 — Aurelio has not been able to serve any customers this Tuesday in his cell phone repair shop in Matanzas. The constant blackouts, especially in the part of the city where he works, affect his business, which depends almost entirely on electricity. The situation has forced him to give, for several days, the same response to his clients: “I have a solution for your phone. What I don’t have is electricity.”

“I live in Pueblo Nuevo, near the bus terminal, and I have to come to Allende to do my job. After an early morning with a blackout at home, isn’t it easy to get here and find the same situation?” the 52-year-old man from Matanzas, whose power in his workshop has been turned off again since 7:00 am, tells this newspaper.

In the middle of the darkness of the night, and in a blackout, only a cafeteria can provide service with its own power plant / 14ymedio

His business, Aurelio says, is not “even remotely” the only one that suffers losses due to power outages. “Even state-run businesses are struggling.” A few days ago, the man from Matanzas went to the Bellamar state pizzeria, located a few blocks from his workshop, to look for some lunch. The place was in blackout and they had not been able to prepare any dishes. Asked if it was possible to return in a couple of hours, the waitress’s response – with a smile – was forceful: “You can come back whenever you want, but since we don’t know how long the blackout will be, we’re leaving.”

The MSMEs [micro, small and medium-size private enterprises] dedicated to the food trade, especially those that need refrigeration, are also affected, and the annoyance of their owners , who in addition to income, lose part of their merchandise, is increasing. “Here we use a coffee maker, toaster, oven… Everything is electrified. With the constant blackouts, it is difficult to maintain the ice cream and cold products with the necessary quality,” the owner of a cafeteria in the Iglesias neighborhood explains to 14ymedio.

When water cannot be pumped up to the rooftop tanks due to lack of electricity, the establishments’ offerings are affected / 14ymedio

“I have a friend whose MSME is mainly dedicated to selling chicken, and this week he had to empty an entire refrigerator that already had flies because the meat had spoiled,” he says. Compared to how demanding the State is with individuals, he laments, “the commitment is little.” “Every month I have to make a payment for my license, whether I sell anything or not. And if the inspectors show up, they want to charge me a fine for anything. Meanwhile, I am losing money and products go down the drain,” he complains.

The blackouts affect even the sectors most favored by the regime, such as tourism, which has one of its most important enclaves in Varadero. The hotels may not have the power cut off, but when the buses that transport workers come to refuel and there is no fuel at the service center, an operation that should take a few minutes ends up becoming a cumbersome procedure that takes long hours.

A cellphone repair shop with service turned off due to lack of electricity / 14ymedio

“Yesterday I was here until 7:00 pm and I couldn’t refuel because there was no electricity service and, therefore, the magnetic card could not be swiped. Today, the same. “I decided to wait a while, but if the power doesn’t come on…” says one of the disappointed drivers. The same thing happens with tourists who rent vehicles and when they arrive in the city find “no gas, no food, no anything.”

The chain of services affected by the blackouts, which, according to several residents of Matanzas, can exceed eight hours, is incalculable. “If there is no electricity, you cannot withdraw money from the bank, without money there is no food or transportation, much less energy to face the same situation every day. The list goes on and you come to see you can’t do anything because it is an essential service,” Aurelio grumbles.

The buses pile up, waiting for supplies to refuel / 14ymedio

The only place where there is no lack of electricity, explains the man from Matanzas, is in the La Marina neighborhood, where popular protests have occurred. In the rest of the city, “it doesn’t matter if it’s in an Etecsa branch [state telecommunications company], in the bank, in the law firm or in a store, wherever you go, there is a blackout.”


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