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France Media Agency in Havana

March 18, 2024

  • Americas

In Cuba, the government has warned against “terrorists based in the United States” and “enemies of the Revolution” who, according to it, are exploiting the wave of anger against the long power cuts and the food shortages in the country.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Santiago de Cuba (Southeast), the country's second city, on Sunday, where residents have been deprived of electricity several times in recent days, sometimes for 14 hours.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on social network

He warned against “the enemies of the Revolution” who exploit this context “for destabilizing purposes”, castigating “terrorists based in the United States, whom we have denounced on several occasions, who encourage actions to destabilize the country.”

The United States Embassy in Cuba called on X the Cuban government to “respect the rights […] of protesters.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez then urged Washington not to “interfere in the country’s internal affairs” on the same social network.

On social networks, images of demonstrations in Santiago de Cuba, as well as in Bayamo, in the neighboring province of Granma, were broadcast without AFP being able to verify their authenticity in the 'immediate.

In Santiago de Cuba (510,000 inhabitants), “people were shouting: 'Food and electricity'”, a resident who requested anonymity told AFP by telephone. Power returned later in the day and “two truckloads of rice” were delivered.

Internet data services for cell phones have been suspended in the city, according to several witnesses.

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“Everything is expensive”

Long power outages and food shortages have pushed people “out into the streets,” said a 28-year-old beautician living in another Santiago neighborhood who also wanted to keep anonymity. “Everything is expensive and salaries are low.”

“Let us hope that solutions emerge,” local archbishop Dionisio García said by telephone, confirming that the situation “was very difficult” in the city due to the cuts and hoping that “everyone can live with more serenity and of tranquility.”

Since the beginning of March, Cuba has been facing a new wave of outages due to maintenance work on the Antonio Güiteras thermoelectric plant, the largest on the island, located in the province of Matanzas (center) , about a hundred kilometers east of Havana.

This weekend, the problem was compounded by the fuel shortage affecting the entire country. The fuel is needed to power other operational thermoelectric plants.

The entire island of Cuba was “affected” by power outages, including the capital, Cuban authorities said on Saturday.

Sunday's demonstration is the largest since those of 2022 when the island experienced daily power outages which had already provoked protests in several provinces as well as in Havana.

By 2022, Cuba had experienced an unprecedented drop in electricity production and even a widespread outage caused by the hurricane Ian on September 27 . The situation had improved in 2023.

Cuba's electricity generation system consists of eight old thermoelectric plants, as well as generators and eight generator boats leased from Turkey, also affected by the lack of fuel.< /p>

The Cuban economy has failed to recover since the coronavirus pandemic. The weaknesses of its centralized system have worsened, at the same time as the American embargo, in force since 1962, has strengthened. In 2023, GDP contracted by 2%, according to official figures.

Nearly three years ago, Cuba experienced major anti-government protests after months of confinement and absence of tourists. On July 11, 2021, thousands of Cubans demonstrated in an unprecedented way, shouting: “We are hungry! » or “Down with dictatorship! “. Hundreds of protesters were sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116