HAVANA – Planned maintenance and breakdowns are what caused blackouts in all provinces of Cuba, according to what government officials told Cuban state-run media Wednesday. At the same time, Cubans for the first time started consistently using social media to report the power outages.
Power sources in the towns of Cienfuegos, Mariel and Nuevitas had problems in their systems, said Raul Garcia Barreiro, Cuba’s minister of mines and energy.
"At 2:30 p.m. [Tuesday] we had breakdowns in the Guiteras Thermoelectric Headquarters," Garcia Barreiro added.
#Cubans are using #social #media to report #power #outages throughout #island. In state run news report, govt says planned maintenance is to blame. At 2:30pm Wed they had breakdowns in system that disrupted service in all provinces. @WPLGLocal10 #ReportoApagonCuba #ApagonesCuba pic.twitter.com/Ze3GVua9M7— Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) July 17, 2019
The minister said electrical output would likely go back to normal and that the average blackout was three hours but admitted some people have experienced longer periods of time without power.
In the past couple days, Cubans used social media outlets like Twitter to report the outages in their towns. They used hashtags like #ReportoApagonCuba, #ApagonesProgramados and #ApagonesCuba to provide details.
In the western Province of Pinar del Río, user @SoyMasCubanoHoy said they lost power between 1:25 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. in the town of San Luis.
“A bad night,” he said.
In Matanzas, Twitter user Roberto Ornan reported two blackouts between 8 a.m. and noon and 4 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
In the central Province of Villa Clara, in the town of Camajuani, Leonardo Rodriguez said his power was gone four hours and 45 minutes.
And in the Province of Camaguey, Juan Carlos Padilla said the area experienced two blackouts in less than 24 hours.
Garcia Barreiro assured state-run television the round of blackouts have nothing to do with oil or lack thereof, but Cubans fear more outages are coming as the country faces a significant economic slowdown.
#CUBA: Govt officials say #electrical issue is not linked to gasoline. Things should be back to normal Sat. #Cubans have started using these #hashtags (#ReportoApagonCuba #ApagonesCuba #ApagonesProgramados) to report outages in their communities. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/JJz8tw4pof— Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) July 17, 2019
Local 10 traveled to Santa Cruz del Norte, a town 30 minutes east of Havana, where people reported several blackouts.
Off-camera, people expressed their frustration and those old enough to remember were quick to mention the economic collapse of the 1990s that Cubans called the Special Period, which made electrical blackouts a daily routine.
In an article dated June 20, 2019, state-run online newspaper CubaDebate ran a story telling the population there would not be any planned blackouts this summer.
Garcia Barreiro said things would be back to normal Saturday and assured the population special places like hospitals were not left in the dark.