The white glowing globe of the full moon hangs between old concrete buildings with rusted metal bars over open windows. The peeling chipped off paint, in bright, but fading, yellows and blues somehow looks beautiful under the moon. The streets are almost completely black tonite. The moon is the only real light we have, except for the glowing screen of our cell phones. My friend who’s walking me home reaches for my hand to comfort me, and we stroll through town hand in hand, at peace. I am grateful he came to walk me home from the historic center tonite as the darkness is intense with yet another power outage. The pueblo quickly becomes dark and almost silent very quickly on these nights. The music venues stay closed, and absolutely nothing is going on when the power is out. People leave their homes to walk the streets with nothing much else to do. The only lights we see are the occasional flickers of a candle, or cell phone screens. The rest of the world around us is pitch black.
Every day the electric has been going out. It seems to be at random times, sometimes first thing in the morning, and some times, like tonight, from 8pm till 1am or so: prime party time. There seems to be little to no consideration of the impact on the community, or businesses, like restaurants and bars that would like to service the few tourists who are in town and provide something for them to do with their night. It’s hard to understand the lack of rational thought on their processes here. It would seem to be smarter to do these during the day time hours so that some kind of tourist economy can hobble itself towards possibility at night, and so students can complete their homework. More so, most Cuban households use fans at night to keep mosquitos and heat under control to sleep. Turning the power off at this time makes it very hard to sleep, as people are swimming in their own sweat in their beds with the oppressive heat. Many also say it is causing dengue to become more of an issue with nighttime mosquito bites. The fans are highly effective at keeping the mosquitos off.
Yesterday there were protests in Camagüey and Holguin at the universities. College students and professors took to the streets with citizens to complain about these daily blackouts, which are happening nationwide. The one exception, reportedly, is Havana, because it is the capitol. Reports of more protests will come from Pinar Del Rio and other provinces. After new considerations post protests, there was a shift and it seemed to become more routine to see the power out between 7 am and 2 pm.
The energy crisis of the world is striking here just as it is everywhere in the world it seems. Yet here it is compounded by the aging infrastructure of the electrical systems in Cuba. Nationwide, Cuba’s power plant systems are very outdated and need a total revamp. Finding replacement parts is nearly impossible for these older systems and there are very serious concerns that the entire system is on the brink of failure.