No lights, fans or respite: Cubans swelter in the dark

STORY: It's a hot July night in the town of Guanajay, about an hour outside Havana.

The homes are dark and a car's beams are the only thing illuminating the street, shining on residents trying to sleep on their porches to escape the punishing heat.

There are no lights, no running fans, and no respite for Cubans suffering through chronic blackouts and sweltering weather.

And there's no end in sight.

On Monday, Cuban Energy and Mining Minister Livan Arronte Cruz said that demand is exceeding current electrical capacity in the island nation.

“The solution will not come immediately. In other words, it will be result of a phased process to recover power generation capacities. It will take time and material resources. We will also need to import (energy).”

Fires this year at two generators, along with breakdowns at Cuba’s largely obsolete power plants dashed hopes of ending outages over the hot summer months and perhaps into next year.

In Havana, the capital, one local complained about both soaring temperatures and the disruptive power cuts.

“I’m telling you – the heat is harsh. Yesterday, they cut it (electricity) from 9 in the morning to 12 in the afternoon because of a breakdown. Then, it was restored but they cut it again from 4 in the afternoon to 8 at night. And today, when I woke up, around 6 in the morning, it was already cut.”

Cuba imports more than 50% of its fuel, mainly from Venezuela. Its power plants burn mostly a heavy, corrosive local crude. Just 5% of electricity comes from alternative sources.

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