Electricity was gradually returning Thursday in Cuba after the total blackout caused by Hurricane Ian.
People seek to “resolve” their most urgent needs and in some neighborhoods of Havana they begin to despair.
“I’m trying to solve it, calling to see who has electricity and can save me some of the chicken I have there, which is about to spoil,” says María Fernández, a 68-year-old retiree, sitting by the telephone in her house. in the neighborhood of Santos Suárez, in Havana.
Lázaro Guerra, technical director of the state-owned Electric Union, told Cuban television at night that at 6:25 p.m. local (10:25 p.m. GMT) “it was possible to connect the national electricity system,” from the systems in the east and west of the country that were isolated and to be able to gradually advance in the reconnection.
“The good news is that we already have an interconnected system at the national level, which we lost at the time Hurricane Ian was passing through the country,” which turned off the National Electric System, he said, explaining that the generating units will be incorporated of energy in the country.
The National Electric System (SEN) collapsed on Tuesday, leaving the island completely blacked out due to the damage caused by the powerful Hurricane Ian, which caused the death of three people and serious damage in the west of the country.
María uses her landline, because “the mobile is dead and the telephone signal and the data are intermittent”.
The Civil Defense decreed a “recovery phase” for the four western provinces, heavily affected, while “normal” has been declared in the rest of the territory.
Some areas of Havana have power, but “the rest are pending circuit certification, as are the provinces of Artemisa and Pinar del Río,” located in the west of the island and the hardest hit by Ian, he explained.
Herrera reported that a good part of the eastern provinces of the island, such as Holguín, Santiago de Cuba, Las Tunas and Camagüey, already had service.
In Cerro, a populous municipality in Havana, dozens of people went out to an avenue in the afternoon to protest the lack of electricity, AFP journalists confirmed.
“We are already tired,” Laura Mujica, a 20-year-old student, told AFP.
“They said that this problem was going to be solved until Monday,” he adds, pointing to a downed power pole on the ground since Tuesday.
“Today is Thursday and then the food (…) was going to spoil us,” he complains. “The women decided to go out into the street, empower us and protest so that they put the power” on us, she said, looking at the trucks from the electricity company that, given the complaint, came to fix the pole.
“There was no need to throw yourself out in the street so they could come and put on electricity,” said Lisandra Torres, a 32-year-old housewife and mother of three.
Twitter users shared videos in which dozens of people appear in that place shouting “The light, the light, the light!”
Images were also shared on social networks in at least two other neighborhoods where expressions of this type were also recorded.
With 11.2 million inhabitants and 15 provinces, Cuba is unified in a single electrical system, to which eight large thermoelectric plants contribute, as well as generators and, to a lesser extent, solar panels and wind technology.
– “Resolver” –
According to linguists, the most used verb in Cuba is “resolve.” After so many years of scarcity and hardship, for Cubans the term means obtaining an object or service, loaned, given away, bought or rented.
And when they “resolve” to get meat, poultry or other perishable food, they stash it in the freezer and manage it carefully. A prolonged blackout is a real misfortune.
“I came to a friend’s house to put food in her fridge,” says relieved Adrián Noriega, a 30-year-old lawyer from the La Víbora neighborhood in southern Havana.
Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia expressed their solidarity with Cuba and said they are evaluating sending aid for the damage caused by the hurricane, while the United States embassy said it “stands in solidarity with the Cuban people.”
In some outlying neighborhoods of the city, employees of polyclinics and other establishments with emergency power plants charge up to 200 pesos (just over a dollar) to surreptitiously charge cell phones.
The Transportation Ministry announced Thursday the replenishment of national bus and train services, and clarified that “all the country’s airports are providing services” for international flights.
In Old Havana, the public service offices and restaurants began to activate.