Cuba is without electricity. The blackout is general. After suffering constant power outages since July, the service has now collapsed and left the country in the dark due to a “failure in the west, center and east links” that has power generation at “zero”.
“The National Electric System has an exceptional condition, 0 electricity generation (without electricity service in the country), this complicated condition is associated with the complex weather effects that have affected the infrastructure,” acknowledged the Cuban Electric Union in a statement released on Twitter.
El SEN con 0 generación eléctrica (sin servicio eléctrico el país), condición asociada a las afectaciones climatológicas. La falla está dada en los enlaces occidente, centro y oriente, se restablecerá paulatinamente entre la noche de hoy y madrugada de mañana. pic.twitter.com/PTA9U5FVdv— Unión Eléctrica (@OSDE_UNE) September 28, 2022
The Castro regime in charge of Miguel Díza-Canel attributes the blackout in Cuba to the passage of Hurricane Ian along the west coast of the island. The category three cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson scale reached the island with gusts of wind that ranged between 185 km/h and 200 km/h at some points, according to the records of the Institute of Meteorology (Insmet), causing the cut of the system at 5:57 pm (local time) this Tuesday.
Since then, Cubans have been without power supply and it is likely that the restoration will take a long time, considering that the authorities admit that “it is a “process that takes time”, they even warn that in the western zone it will be more complex because “ there is a group of transmission lines damaged by the passage of Ian”.
The general blackout in Cuba is the icing on the cake of a week that began with a 21% deficit in electricity generation. The province of Pinar del Río -in the extreme west- is the most affected. More than 50,000 families have already been evacuated in that area, known for being the main tobacco producer in the country. There is damage to homes and commercial premises, fallen trees and roads without access.
In Havana, one of the six provinces under cyclonic alert also reported moderate rains with some intense gusts and the suspension of service. Images of the dark capital abound on social networks.
A service in chaos
The version of the Cuban regime to justify the blackout raises doubts. “I do not rule out that it is the regime itself that has ordered the country to be shut down to ‘save’,” says Félix Llerena, Cuba’s youth ambassador at the Youth and Democracy in the Americas organization on Twitter.
His suspicion is valid. Although Cuba has 5.87 GW of installed generation capacity, only 3.2 GW are operational, according to a report by the state company Unión Eléctrica (UNE), revealed by the BBC.
In addition, of the 13 thermoelectric plants that the island has, eight have more than 30 years of service and five correspond to floating plants rented from Turkey since 2019 to try to avoid a total collapse that requires the investment of 1.5 million dollars, the same amount that the regime spent on expanding hotel capacity, when the influx of tourists is at a minimum.
In this regard, Jorge Piñón, director of the Energy Program for Latin America and the Caribbean at the University of Texas, in an interview with the British agency, estimated that the structural problem has no short-term solution.
“The thermoelectric plants are not working because they have been in operation for more than 40 or 45 years, they have not been given regular maintenance or investment, and they use Cuban national crude oil with a high sulfur content.”
More protests for this cause are foreseeable, considering that the power outages triggered the most recent demonstrations in Nuevitas and the province of Camagüey and were part of the demands of the historic day of July 11, 2021, which led to a wave of arrests. and closed-door trials with sentences of up to 30 years.