The Protest Demands in Cuba: Electricity, Water and Freedom

Since September 29, more than 30 protests have been registered in Havana. Photo: screenshot.

By El Toque

HAVANA TIMES – The nationwide blackout that occurred on September 27th in Cuba has unleashed a wave of protests in various provinces of the country. The main ones have occurred in Havana, where several residents report up to 100 hours without electricity.

The authorities insist that they are working “intensely to restore electricity to all customers” – saying that at noon Saturday 94% had service. However, in various parts of the city people took to the streets due to the lack of electricity, food spoilage, problems with the water supply that requires pumping, and the suspension of the liquefied gas service.

On some streets and avenues, families blocked the way with tree branches and fires were reported at some roadblocks.

State authorities have appeared at the protest zones to “explain” why they do not have service; however, in some cases the power has been restored after the protests or they have been promised incentives such as “bags of food”, according to what President Díaz-Canel told the residents of Batabano.

At two in the afternoon on Saturday, four days were completed without electricity in the apartment building where journalist Luz Escobar lives. She works for the online newspaper 14yMedio. “When it comes to an apartment building with many floors, that needs to pump the water to the apartments on the upper floors, water is also scarce. It is not only that you do not have electricity and you cannot charge your cellphone, you also cannot refrigerate your food that rots and then you have nowhere to buy it. You simply don’t have water either, you can’t clean, you can’t take a shower, you can’t mop if you don’t look for water. If you have a source below, carrying it in buckets and other containers up eight floors, ten floors or more, is quite difficult. The scenes we are seeing make me very sorry,” Escobar wrote.

Since September 29, Proyecto Inventario has registered about 30 protests in some 26 neighborhoods of Havana. On October first street closures were used as a strategy to attract attention, such as at Zapote and San Luis Streets in Havana’s Diez de Octubre municipality.

However, Havana was not the province most affected by Hurricane Ian, which crossed the far west of the country as a category three storm on September 27, 2022. Where has the Cuban Government put the resources after the disaster caused by the hurricane? Pinar del Río was the most devastated province, but it has not been the top priority. Only 69 brigades are working to restore electricity in that province; however, 100 brigades work in Artemisa and 121 in Havana.

According to data from the Cuban presidency, in Pinar del Rio, the westernmost of the Cuban provinces, 1.6% of electricity has been recovered, which represents some 3,700 customers; meanwhile they say in Artemisa, 38% of the electricity service has been restored, in Isla de la Juventud 98% and in Havana they say electricity is restored to 100%.

The leak of a request from the Cuban government to its US counterpart has also drawn attention in recent hours. The news outlet The Wall Street Journal reported on a rare request for help from the Biden Administration after the devastation of Hurricane Ian. The newspaper assures that Washington is evaluating how much assistance the island needs, because apparently an exact amount was not requested, via email.

On Saturday, users on social networks notified the cancellation of flights at the José Martí International Airport in Havana. CNN journalist Patrick Oppmann confirmed the cancellation of American Airlines flights between Miami and Havana at 5:03 p.m. (flight AA1345) and 6:58 p.m. (flight AA2699). Oppmann points out that the airlines informed the passengers that the reason for the suspension was “power issues” at the Havana airport.

An El Toque collaborator from the Cuban capital shared information on the cancellation of flights AA838, scheduled for 6:15 p.m., AA2483, at 7:15 p.m., and AA2696, corresponding to 9:10 p.m. Likewise, flight PU895, from Plus Ultra to Brazaville, Congo, at 9:00 p.m., also appeared cancelled. However, Ecasa, a Cuban company in charge of caring for aircraft, passengers, and the facilities of the country’s airports, does not update its Telegram channel on the cancellation of flights. Its last publication dates from last September 28.

The almost total blackout of communications in Cuba on the nights of September 29 and 30, has been another of the recent difficulties. The .cu domain sites were totally out of service during the outages. This could be interpreted as a measure by the Cuban government to prevent the spread of protests and the public message of denunciation.

“I dare to speculate that, if the Internet had not been cut off yesterday, [the protest] could have grown much more, especially because of what happened at Havana’s 31st (Avenida), which was a replay of July 11, 2021, not in terms of overturning patrols, but in terms of energy. They weren’t people standing still, I’m not going to say in a state of euphoria, but they seemed very aware of what they were doing. There were very determined people and that could go a long way”, reflects economist Miguel Alejandro Hayes.

Although the Cuban authorities have always avoided the term “protest” and have tried to rename the events as riots or acts of vandalism, this time they were unable to avoid reality with qualifications that diminished the relevance of what happened.

“I believe that protesting is a right, but it is a right when those responsible, the State and the Government, are failing to do what they are responsible for. However under the conditions we are talking about, yesterday’s protest, instead of helping, slow down the fulfillment of that mission and that desire we have to, to see a full recovery in the shortest possible time,” said Luis Antonio Torres, the top Communist Party official for Havana on the National TV News.

As long as the leaders remain disconnected from the reality faced by the population and value the protests as an impediment to their functions without them having a vocation of service; as long as Etecsa (the telecommunications company) does not explain or offer reasons for the repeated Internet outages; while Cuba barely survives day to day, the fear of protesting will be less and the cry for freedom will be louder along with the demands that are repeated year after year.

Lea más desde Cuba aquí en Havana Times

11 thoughts on “The Protest Demands in Cuba: Electricity, Water and Freedom

  • For Curt the “socialist “ Cuban “paradise” is his last Left hope he refuses and denies to Cubans the benefits and freedom he enjoys in capitalists and freedom. Today there are Cubans exiles colonies from Uruguay,Chile to Greece no only in the USA even in Dominican Republic and they all are very successful. The Cuban dictatorship is a failure But is the last hope of the dated left

  • Curt, you are getting good at the art of politicians to divert the subject at hand when they are caught in their own lies.

    If one reads this tread they can see the one big truth in Curt’s off the cuff statements: “The people protesting for lack of freedom and electricity have legitimate gripes…”

    Now in his latest attempt to dodge the main issues of this post he changes his tune to a xenophobic approach against Cuban migrants who spend a fortune and risk their lives to come to the United States.

    Curt says: “Maybe I’m tired of Cubans coming to the US crying repression and asking for asylum when they are just economic refugees.” This comes from the guy who earlier admitted they are protesting a lack of freedom.

    Then Curt goes on to justify the police repression in Cuba against non-violent protestors. Curt says: “The Cuban police are only doing what police in most other countries would do to handle protests.” Right Curt, that’s just what the US police did against the Black Lives Matter protests in many cities or the Israeli police/militar do against Palestinians who dare to protest their conditions. Likewise, what Putin does against protestors in Russia. I guess Curt just agrees with police repression wherever it takes place. Or is it that he only sees it as normal in Cuba since he supports the government there?

  • Mr. Anti Imperialist, maybe I’m tired of Cubans coming to the US crying repression and asking for asylum when they are just economic refugees. The Cuban police are only doing what police in most other countries would do to handle protests. They don’t deserve special treatment just because they have powerful Cuban American lobbyists and several representatives in Congress from the swing state of Florida.

  • Now Curt says “The protesters need to just chill” after having said they are getting paid to protest. If that wasn’t a crock of bull why would they want to chill and not cash in on money from the US?

    And for those protesting because of what Curt said earlier: “The people protesting for lack of freedom and electricity have legitimate gripes…” why would they want to chill because the recovery is going slow in Florida? Curt they live in Cuba!

    I wonder what Curt is going to invent now?

  • The protesters need to just chill. It seems like Florida is having just as much trouble restoring electricity to their people as Cuba. Some in Lee County may have to wait for a month to have their electricity back.

  • Curt you are right and very wrong.

    Just like when you said “The people protesting for lack of freedom and electricity have legitimate gripes…” where you are right this time is that the US government does allocate money to exile groups and others mainly in the US for political reasons, doing so for decades.

    Where you are very wrong is that historically almost all the money stays with the groups or businesses in the US. There is no proof of any mass handouts to poor Cubans, who, as you can see, are the people protesting for a lack of freedom and electricity.

    If you have proof of protestors on the US payroll you should mention the sources of your proof. The Cuban government goes even further, it calls them all counter-revolutionary traitors without proof either. I guess talk is cheap.

  • Mr. Anti Imperialist, part of the Helms Burton Act facilitated by the militants in Miami SPECIFiES that 20 million dollars be set aside each year to give to civil groups and NGOs in Cuba in order to facilitate regime change and instill a new government in Cuba that will kiss ass to the US. This is not a lie and maybe you should do some research before writing trash about people you don’t agree with.

  • Wow, the CIA payroll got huge. I wondering if the 1500 Cubans incarcerated for the protest on J11 last year still getting pay.

  • Well Curt, one truth and one lie is better than two lies.

    Truth that you said: “The people protesting for lack of freedom and electricity have legitimate gripes…”

    Your lie: “those protesting for freedom are paid mercenaries who are getting their money from the US government and militant terrorist exile organizations in Miami.” The hundreds of people beating pots and pans would love some help from the US or Miami groups or anybody but that is a ridiculous claim with no proof whatsoever. It’s similar to when the Black Lives Matter protests in the USA some people claimed, without an ounce of proof, they were all on the Russian pay roll.

  • The people protesting for lack of freedom and electricity have legitimate gripes, but those protesting for freedom are paid mercenaries who are getting their money from the US government and militant terrorist exile organizations in Miami.

  • Glad to see some progress on electricity service and glad to see that protests are happening without arrests. Just like José Marti would expect.

    Best wishes to the Cuban people.

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