HAVANA, Aug. 13th The economic horizon is darkened by a cloud – literally. Rolling blackouts are already the norm throughout the island, as Cuba’s Soviet-era thermoelectric power plants are crumbling.No short-term remedy is in sight.
And now, a lightning strike wreaked havoc on key infrastructure that fuels these power plants. That means more blackouts, as well as additional expenses Cuba can’t afford.
What’s more, the disaster does not help Cuba’s efforts to bring back tourism:
For four days the towering pillar of black smoke at the supertanker base at Matanzas Bay was visible from Varadero, Cuba’s No. 1 beach resort, and the plume darkened the skies above Havana, the island’s No. 1 destination, prompting health authorities to tell people to stay indoors.
All this is probably going to further slow Cuba’s already slow recovery from the pandemic slump.
The heroism and capacity of firefighters – one is confirmed dead, 14 are still missing – and their success in saving half of the oil storage facility, with support from Mexico and Venezuela, are edifying.
But the five days of disaster also made one thing clear: Don’t expect the Biden administration to use its slim political capital to break open the status quo with Cuba. In the delicate diplomatic dance that ensued as the flames lit the night sky as far away as the Florida Keys, it looked for the first 48 hours of the disaster as if the United States might help.
But despite the gravity of the event, all the United States delivered was expert advice via telephone.
So what does all this mean to you? You tell us!
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