Blackouts put Cuban dictatorship under control: outdated structures, neglect and Venezuelan abandonment

People wait in line to enter a store in downtown Havana, Cuba, July 20, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Menegini

The Blackouts became the main challenge of Cuban DictatorshipAccording to experts, who highlight the burden they place on an economy already in crisis, their short-term unstoppability and their potential to fuel social discontent.

It is a diabolical problem: too expensive, with no simple or quick solutions, with massive repercussions across the entire Cuban economy and society, and elements beyond the reach of the system, six economists, historians, political scientists and lawyers told Efe.

“It is clear that the state of the energy is out of control.”confirms to the former Cuban diplomat and political scientist Carlos Zugari.

TheThe country’s thermal power plants – responsible for two-thirds of the energy – are outdated and lack spare parts, maintenance and investment. In addition, they require fuel at a time Cuba faces great difficulties in obtaining oil, due to its financial problems and the difficulties faced by Venezuela, its main supplier.

Protests in Cuba over power cuts

The system “has no cards to play: The system is in crisis, and there is no long-term solution in sight And they should try to manage this as best they can.” Michael J BustamanteAssociate Professor of History at the University of Miami.

Cuban Economist Tamaris Lynn Bahamond Describes the situation as “A building about to collapse and suffers an earthquake.”

Bahamond remembers it Power outages do not only affect homesHe – in the 2000s, the system carried out an “energy revolution” in which they put electric stoves in thousands of homes -, But also for companies and the agri-food sector.

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Cuban lawyer and doctoral student at the University of Salamanca (Spain) Luis Carlos Batista talks about The ‘chain effect’ that power outages have on the economy, burdening tourism to transport, passing through trade and consumption.

The effect of lightning caused an impressive fire at a fuel depot in Cuba

Pavel Alejandro Vidal, assistant professor at the University of Gafriana in Cali (Colombia), agrees with Bahamond and Batista and asserts that energy “is the basis of everything”. “I imagine they must be worried because of all the problems that exist, the most dangerous and most worrying and most important is the impotence of generations because there is no way out.”

Batista points in the same direction: “The situation is very ugly and the worst thing is that there is no ability to provide a solution.”

A power outage has reached Havana
A power outage has reached Havana

In July alone, blackouts were recorded on 29 out of 31 days of the monthaccording to data from the State Electricity Association (UNE) compiled by Efe. Discounts in some localities exceeded ten consecutive hours.

The economic model in question

Cuban Arturo Lopez Levy, professor of international relations and politics at Holy Names University, argues that “there is no way to solve the energy crisis without compromising other pillars of the system.”

It is not a question of partial solutions: this requires a really important change in the structures.” It highlights Lopez Levy, who asserted that “the country’s system of economic organization is in its final stage, but not the political system.”

consider it The Cuban economic system is currently showing “survival problems” And it must be quickly changed “significantly” and “deeply” despite the fact that the scenario is not the best.

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In your opinion, yese gives the paradox that the regime seeks to legitimize itself by claiming that it is a “continuity” of the generation that made the revolution, and at the same time, in order to survive, it must make remarkable economic changes, a “great openness” (privatization, foreign investment .. .) which actually took a long time.

“The continuity of the political system depends on a transformation, on a significant change,” he says. He adds that the system “is forced to convince itself that it understands how bad things are and that it will make the necessary changes.”

social inequality

Cuba has entered a new phase in the current energy crisis with the cuts in the capital city of Havana, which this week began with the distribution of four hours every three days by province.

Although it could remain an anecdote, more than one analyst does not underestimate the “transcendental” nature of the blackout, which was initially heralded in the official press as an “act of solidarity” toward the other counties.

Even before this decision – which, according to the provincial authorities, is intended to provide about 100 megawatts to the rest of the country – the capital did not have a problem that permeates all of Cuban geography daily.

FILE PHOTO: A special forces vehicle drives past an old car in downtown Havana, Cuba on July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Menegini/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A special forces vehicle drives past an old car in downtown Havana, Cuba on July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Menegini/File Photo

Economists explain this through the strategic importance of Havana. For its position as the capital, economic heart, seat of authorities and gateway to tourism in the country.

This has led to social unrest due to the revelation of “regional disparities,” according to Bustamante, but it has also led to a privileged treatment of tourists.

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‘Causes or contributes to Already very active discussion about the country’s investment priorities. There has been a lot of talk about how they over-invested in hotels in order to get foreign currency, but people are wondering why more has not been invested in electrical equipment.“, Concludes.

According to the calculations of Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, the regime has invested nearly $1.5 billion in new hotel rooms in the past two years.

During that period, Cuba went through a serious crisis that is still mired in the pandemic, tightening of sanctions, and failures of national macroeconomic management.

The most visible elements of this situation were the queues due to the lack of basic products, high inflation, the partial dollarization of the economy, as well as frequent blackouts.


The recurring effects on the show were one of the reasons July 11, 2021 demonstrations, the largest in decades. In fact, they started in San Antonio de los Baños during a power outage.

In recent weeks, protests have multiplied, especially in smaller urban centers affected by the long cuts. The situation escalated this week with two registrations in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, the country’s two largest cities.

We will see more and more protests, and more indignation. Each time there is a greater loss of legitimacy. “It’s not just because of the power outage, but it’s one of the factors,” says Batista.

(With information from EFE)

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