Cuba disconnects 74% of public lighting due to lack of fuel

Cuba disconnects 74% of public lighting due to lack of fuel

HAVANA, March 6. Cuba turned off almost three-quarters of its public lighting during peak consumption hours to address a growing energy shortage,state media reported on Tuesday, when the economic crisis is increasingly deepening on the island.

Blackouts, which disrupt daily life and the local economy, have affected the Caribbean country for several years, but have worsened in recent months due to lack of fuel and the need to maintain obsolete infrastructure.

In a meeting of the Council of Ministers, the head of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, pointed out that the measure of “disconnection of 74 percent of public lighting” joins others that include the closure of thousands of state services, the paralysis of air conditioning equipment and the adjustment of the schedule of almost 70 thousand workers.

Import-dependent Cuba has been plunged into a deepening economic crisis and its gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen 10 percent since 2019.

The government has largely blamed former U.S. President Donald Trump-era sanctions aimed at curbing foreign exchange generation such as tourism, medical services and remittances, aggravated by the pandemic and lukewarm efforts to restructure a centralized and state-dominated economy.

The shortage of foreign currency to import food, medicine, fuel and other essential items appears to have worsened so far this year, according to official figures.

De la O Levy recently said that Cuba has only received 46 percent of the planned fuel imports, which has caused long blackouts throughout the country, except for Havana, it’s capital.

A telephone survey conducted in five of the 14 provinces indicated that residents were experiencing daily blackouts of between six and 12 hours.

Yurkina Gracial, a 40-year-old state employee in the eastern province of Guantánamo, said by phone that “the power goes out for four hours twice a day and it is unbearable because of the heat.”

In the far western province of Pinar del Río, Jaime Carrillo, a restaurant owner, said power outages lasted too long daily. “Blackouts always complicate your daily work,” he said.