Electricity blackouts and carnival canceled in Havana

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As the country’s energy crisis worsens, the Cuban capital of Havana, home to a fifth of the population of 11.2 million and center of economic activity in Cuba, will begin electricity blackouts in August. Each of Havana’s six municipalities will have its electricity cut every three days during peak mid-day hours, according to the local Communist Party daily, Tribuna de la Habana. “It is estimated for peak hours a availability of 2,349 MW and a maximum demand of 2,855 MW for a deficit of 506 MW” specified the state company in a press release. The lack of energy in several cases can extend to more than ten hours. Other measures such as mass vacations to shutter state-run companies, working from home and a 20% cut in energy allocations for private businesses with high consumption were announced. It was said that the entire power grid was near collapse after recent fires in two of 20 already obsolete plants, with others constantly breaking down. A possible total collapse of the system must be avoided. One of the harsh measures that will no doubt greatly affect public sentiment and spirit is the canceling of Carnival, the most important annual island festivity and one that has been celebrated for centuries every August including music and dances.

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Cuba is also confrunting for years with soaring prices for food, fuel and shipping. The pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine worsened the crisis. The country experienced exodus of more than 150,000 Cubans since October to the United States, and more elsewhere.