Cuba shuts factories in
Reuters in Havana
The Guardian, London
Cuba is to close 118 factories to try to ease an energy crisis that has
caused daily blackouts of up to 12 hours, wreaking havoc on personal
lives and the economy.
Vice-President Carlos Lage said in a broadcast to the nation that steel,
cement, paper, and juice plants would be among those to shut "at least
President Fidel Castro has blamed a lack of generating capacity, rather
than high oil prices, for the crisis. He has called for measures to
regulate residential consumers and small private businesses with high
"The socialist state is subsidising this electricity, which costs them
10% of what it costs us to produce," he said.
The cuts began after Cuba's largest power station, near the city of
Matanzas, broke down in May, depriving the island of 330 megawatts - 15%
of its needs. The plant is still out of action and blackouts have
worsened as other generators have been closed for maintenance. The grid
is operating at 50% capacity.
"We all are to blame ... We have a weak system," Mr Castro said,
promising to invest in new capacity. He said the supply problems could
persist for five months or more.
Cuba suffer from a lack of hard currency and is considered one of the
world's worst credit risks, because of debt defaults and the US trade
"It is very difficult to get out of this situation until a lot of money
is invested and a reasonable framework for these investments is
created," a European diplomat said
Source: La Nueva Cuba
José F. Sánchez
September 30, 2004