After Hurricane Ian left Cuba in the dark, protestors took to the streets. Now the government is set to charge them for access to electricity.
I sat outside on the balcony of our Havana flat when the power failed. That was a year ago, and my wife, daughter, and two nieces had to get up before the sun came up to turn on the lights. Now, two months after that, after Hurricane Maria, I am still waiting. Now, a new problem has set in.
On Tuesday, May 18, the island of Jamaica received a warning from its power grid that it needed help to keep the lights on because of the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Maria on the electrical grid. When I saw the lights go out at 6:29 a.m. I called to order. The utility company, Con Edison, said it had a crew in place at 6:45 a.m. ready to assist.
Con Edison is one of two companies that operate the power grid islandwide. The other is the Jamaica Electricity Generating Authority, and after the hurricane, the JEGA received the responsibility for powering Jamaica’s hospitals and schools, as well as providing power to about a hundred people stranded in Miami. Despite the power not being restored for several days after the hurricane, Con Edison said it’s still standing by to assist.
And yet, the government is charging protestors for access to electricity that they have not requested. It’s not fair. It’s not just, either. It’s not just to me, but to the many Cubans who lost electricity for months while the electrical grid was being repaired. It’s not fair to many others who had to wait months for power to arrive after their hospital, or for their schools to open again. And it’s not fair to Cubans who are still waiting for power after the hurricane is over.
As of last Friday, the power had been cut off to most homes and businesses for months. The lights went out, and the power was not restored for months. The electricity generator at the Ministry of Labour, in particular, had to be re-furbished from scratch. When the lights went out in the capital, at least, the people of Havana didn’t have to sit in darkness for hours on end.
In this country, we don’t know how this