Havana protests flare for second night as govt scrambles to turn on lights By Reuters
Commodities 5 hours ago (Oct 01, 2022 12:12PM ET)
By Dave Sherwood and Alexandre Meneghini
HAVANA (Reuters) -Crews restored power to more neighborhoods across Havana on Saturday after a second night of protests over ongoing blackouts in Cuba’s capital, including some of the largest demonstrations since widespread anti-government rallies in July 2021.
At least one of the protests in the western seaside borough of Playa swelled in size to several hundred people who chanted “turn on the lights,” as well as slogans disparaging President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
At one point, the group began to chant for freedom, or “libertad,” in Spanish, as protesters marched through a dark, densely populated district that has been without electricity since Hurricane Ian slammed into the island on Tuesday.
Reports on social media also showed smaller demonstrations and residents banging pots and pans elsewhere in Havana late on Friday. Protests, which remained largely peaceful, appeared confined to those places where power had not yet been restored.
The majority of city residents, whose electricity supply had returned during the day, did not protest on Friday.
“Little by little the power is coming back, and good thing,” said Jorge Mario Gonzalez, a 57-year-old postal worker in Havana. He said the power came back on at his home on Friday.
“The government is making a big effort but can’t satisfy everyone. We have so many problems.”
Ian knocked out power to the whole country of 11 million people when it plowed through western Cuba earlier this week. By mid-day Friday, officials said electricity had been restored to more than 60% of customers in Havana, a city of more than 2 million, but those still in the dark had grown increasingly anxious.
“It’s like being in hell,” said Carlos Felipe Garcia, who marched shirtless at the protest in Playa on Friday night, covered in sweat. “That’s why we?re out on the street, and we’ll keep coming out.”
Officials said on Friday they hoped to have the lights back on across most of Havana by the end of the weekend. City officials have said the protests unleashed by the outages have hindered recovery efforts.
As the demonstration in Playa late on Friday gained steam, it was met by several truckloads of security forces in black berets, who blockaded the main boulevard, preventing those marching from advancing, according to a Reuters witness.
Later an equally large group of hundreds of government supporters chanting “I am Fidel” – a reference to the late former leader Fidel Castro – followed behind the protesters on an adjacent street. The men, many wearing jeans and T-shirts, were armed with sticks, baseball bats and scrapwood.
No clashes or arrests were observed.
Street protests in communist-run Cuba are very rare. On July 11, 2021, anti-government rallies rocked the island, the largest such demonstrations since Castro’s 1959 revolution.
Internet communications in Havana appeared to collapse again for the second night on Friday as protests flared, making mobile calls and messaging impossible until around 4 a.m. on Saturday.
“Internet has been cut again in Cuba, at around the same time as yesterday,” said Alp Toker, director of internet watchdog NetBlocks. “The timings provide another indication that the shutdowns are implemented as a measure to suppress coverage of the protests.”
The Cuban government did not respond to a request for comment on the situation.
As the protesters marched in Playa, the electricity suddenly came back on in some housing and apartment blocks.
“When people protest, yes, they put on the lights,” said one local resident, Andres Mora, pointing to a recently lit building. “But our children’s food has already rotted and they don’t have anything to eat.”
The prolonged blackouts in Cuba are particularly upsetting for many residents because obtaining basic goods – including food, fuel and medicine – often means hours waiting in line under the hot Caribbean sun.
Outside Havana, vast swaths of the island were still in the dark as work crews continued to repair electric poles and lines and remove trees from roads.
Havana protests flare for second night as govt scrambles to turn on lights
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders will discuss the security of their critical infrastructure next week, the head of the European Council said on Saturday, following damage to Nord…
By Daniel Becerril SABINAS, Mexico (Reuters) – Each time Juan Briones descends deep into the ground of northern Mexico to dig for coal he knows he must balance earning a living…
SOFIA (Reuters) – Greece and Bulgaria started commercial operation of a long-delayed gas pipeline on Saturday which will help decrease southeast Europe’s dependence on Russian gas…
(C) 2007-2022 Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.