Apagonazo* — A Blackout in Cuba

apagonazo-300x225

Havana at 11 pm on Sunday, September 9

In a country where power cuts have been an inseparable part of our lives, we should not be surprised when the lights go out. But yesterday, at 8:08 pm, something happened that raised the alarms. First we lost our television signal, during the very first minutes of the prime time news. Then, Havana blacked out entirely, to an extent and over an area we can’t remember happening, even during the worst of the hurricanes. Reports then started to come in from the various provinces confirming that from Pinar del Rio (90 miles to the west of us) to Camaguey (300 miles to the east of us) the Island was in darkness.  More than five million Cubans in the shadows, wondering what was happening.

Five hours later the electricity began to flow again in the neighborhood where I live. I ventured to scribble on paper some of the peculiarities of what happened. I transcribe them here:

  • The electrical blackout was accompanied by an information blackout. Over the more than four hours, the official media said nothing about what was happening. With our battery radios, many of us turned the dial in search of an explanation, but the national broadcasters maintained silence. Radio Reloj (Clock Radio), which should have been giving us up-to-the-minute details of national and international events, talked about everything but the most important thing. So we heard a recipe for fish medallions, the benefits of having a mammogram, beautiful Brazilian legends about water… and the discovery of “prehistoric shoes” at archeological sites. Everything, except what we wanted to know: What has happened that half the country can’t see their hands in front of their faces?
  • People began to despair. The police patrol cars ran their sirens in the streets and now and then we heard a fire engine pass by. Trucks with their “state of siege” lights patrolled the area along the Malecon. This increased people’s fear, and together with the news blackout generated apprehension and a great deal of speculation.
  • The incident demonstrated the lack of foresight on the part of the Electric Company with regards to situations like this. A few places managed to run their generators and in outlying neighborhoods they asked their own neighbors if they had any oil reserves they could have to jump start these electric plants.
  • That this blackout happened on a windless day caused particular concern; there was no cyclone deluging us with rain, no solar storm particularly focused on the largest of the Antilles. What then was the cause of a failure of such proportions?
  • The Twitter social network again proved its informational effectiveness. An hour after the darkness descended, the Internet was already offering alternative reports on its geographic dimensions. It was not long before we had a hashtag for the situation: #Apagonazo. While the official media made it clear that they can only inform to the extent they are authorized to do so, the alternative news networks demonstrated their importance, not only when it comes time to denounce an outrage or an arrest, but also during natural disasters, weather hazards, and accidents of any kind.
  • The much-trumpeted Energy Revolution, among whose “conquests” was to prevent this kind of monumental blackout, demonstrated its failure once again. Even the emblematic Morro Castle in Havana Bay lost its lighthouse lamp, which some associate ironically with the joke: “Will the last person leaving Cuba please turn off el Morro…”
  • More than half of those who called me in alarm during the time of darkness associated the event with some government problem. Phrases in the style of, “it’s broken…” were repeated from all sides. The media disinformation strengthened this impression. Which is a sign of the political and social fragility of a nation, when a several hour blackout can lead its citizen to think that the whole system has imploded. Significant, right?
  • Someone commented to me that the General-President “was demanding the blood” of the directors of the Ministry of Basic Industry… I limited myself to responding better he should ask for electricity, because it’s very easy to demand that others be held accountable when we all know who makes the nation’s major decisions about energy.
  • After a long silence, at midnight a brief note was read on TV, so cryptic that it generated still more speculations. They attributed the incident to a break in the 220,000 volt line near Ciego de Avila. So far they haven’t added any details.
  • Gradually, over the course of the night, electricity was restored in the capital and in most other affected areas. There are no reports of any damages caused, although surely there must be many.
  • In the end we are left with the conviction that the country is in such a precarious material state that an incident like this could happen again. And, what’s worse, that the national media will maintain its habitual secrecy.

Translator’s note: “Apagone” is the word for blackout, and the suffix “azo” means, more or less, “a blow or a strike.”  Protests are often named using the suffix “azo”; so the 1994 riots on the Malecon were dubbed the “Maleconazo,” while Gorki Aguila called his protest against surveillance cameras, carried out on his balcony, a “balconazo.”

28 thoughts on “Apagonazo* — A Blackout in Cuba

  1. Sorry to step into a debate that certainly overtake the boundaries of the single episode described. In USA there are power outages that last for days. Just last year for hurricanes (not really that much impressive) we stayed without electricity for almost a week and even though the cause was pretty obvious the information was not that good either. Cell phones were working but any attempt to contact the Electrical company (a private company), ended up to a damn automatic answering machine. I am italian and very rarely we have such outages because our electric lines run underground. This result has been achieve in Italy and many European countries when electrical companies were run by the government. Now that are private they certainly would haven’t done such an effort and this is the reason why in USA they have terrible electric lines. Recent regulation are forcing companies to run underground all the new installations. So, again , I understand that a criticism against the government can also use this episode, but the government itself and the supporters of the government should also understand that in a country in which opposition has been “discouraged” for long time and labeled as anti-revolutionary it is normal that everything is blamed to the government and this , believe me , it happens even in countries in which there is a total freedom of expression. For the people that sustain the government for whatever reason, the arsh and rude comments against the people that have the right to complaint is not doing any good, nor enforcing any popularity or empathy to the government. A more balanced and responsible approach and dialog would certainly help. Also listening to what someone else has to say even if you don’t like it , its a sign of intelligence and wiseness. Maybe if you listen carefully instead of saying bad words or calling name you can also understand that people care for their country as much as you do, otherwise they would shut up and let the country go to hell. The excuse of the embargo (that of course is true and certainly affects a lot the cuban economy) has been played many times by many countries to hide the responsabilities of people at the government. It is obvious that everybody is aware that Cuba can’t have many things, but this is not why the government is blamed, nor the electrical companyy is blamed. I apologize if I said something inexact or someone has been offended, but I think that a blog exist to be opened to everybody and this everybody can say his opinion like it or not. Certainly for me is easy , I don’t live in Cuba, but we are part of a global world (like it or not) and despite the efforts of some governments each country , each nation , each individual is part of it. I think this is one of the positive aspects of this “globalization”, nobody can be “closed” in itself anymore. Thus any regime , any governor, president or politician has to get used to criticism and to be judged not only by the people living close , but also by people that are very far away.

  2. All this guy needs to do is to cultivate the right cuoetmsrs. If he had catered to Fidel’s friends he may have received an invitation and a private plane ride instead of a jail sentence. Look how well the strategy has paid off for Chris Sommers:When you’re the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do – even if that means flying a chef 860 miles. Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.Is it just me, or is it a little unseemly to be flying chefs to the White House on the taxpayer dime during “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression”? And what about that “carbon footprint”? Massive.Elvis used to send his private plane to California to pick up his favorite PB&J’s, but I’m pretty sure he used his own money.

  3. HOW WOULD THE GOVERNMENT INFORM THE CITIZENS THROUGH THE MEDIA WHEN THE BLACKOUT WOULD HAVE HAD THE MEDIA CUT OUT FROM CITIZENS, PREVENTING THEM FROM LISTENING TO THE TV OR RADIOS????????

    Uh, there’s this neat, and really handy, little invention called the battery.

  4. To the obviously dumb pin-up granny traitor and terrorist:

    OF COURSE THERE COULD

    N O T

    BE ANY INFO ST***D!!!

    THE ELECTRICITY WENT OUT AND NO ONE COULD HEAR IT ANYWAY.

    STU**D LIAR AND TERRORIST TRAITOR OF YOUR OWN COUNTRY.

    HOW WOULD THE GOVERNMENT INFORM THE CITIZENS THROUGH THE MEDIA WHEN THE BLACKOUT WOULD HAVE HAD THE MEDIA CUT OUT FROM CITIZENS, PREVENTING THEM FROM LISTENING TO THE TV OR RADIOS????????

    THE INFORMATION AND FULL DISCLOSURE WAS MADE AS SOON AS THE

    E L E C T R I C I T Y SUPPLY

    WAS RESTORED.

    OH, BUT HEY, THE FACT THAT CUBA WAS UNABLE TO MAINTAIN THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS BECAUSE YOUR WHITE “gods” HAD IMPOSED EMBARGO, AS ACKNOWLEDGED BY YOU, AND THE COUNTRY WAS CONSEQUENTLY BROUGHT TO THE EDGE OF BANCRUPCY,

    NOW, T H A T

    IS NOT A NEWS, IS IT?

    DIRTY AND CHEAP JINETERA.

    WHAT A DISGUSTING LIAR.

    I AM STILL WAITING YOU AND YOUR BOSSES DARE TO START ANSWERING MY QUESTION ABOUT ALL YOUR LIES AND DELUS–IONS YOU LOSERS ARE WRITING HERE IN A FUTILE HOPE SOMEONE, OTHER THAN YOU SAD DELUSI.ONAL AND MENT..ALLY DER.ANGED LOT, WOULD BELIEVE.

    GET A GRIP: CUBA WILL SURVIVE AND CONTINUE LONG AFTER YOUR CORPSE HAS DECOMPOSED IN SOME GRASS-COVERED GRAVE.

    THERE’S

    N O T H I N G

    YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.

    YOUR “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” HAS DISINTEGRATED AND WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

    YOUR IS A MENTAL DISTURBANCE THAT RESULTS IN WET DREAMS.

    BUT, THAT’S

    A L L

    THEY ARE:

    JUST DREAMS.

  5. To the obviously dumb pin-up granny traitor and terrorist:

    OF COURSE THERE COULD

    N O T

    BE ANY INFO ST***D!!!

    THE ELECTRICITY WENT OUT AND NO ONE COULD HEAR IT ANYWAY.

    STU**D LIAR AND TERRORIST TRAITOR OF YOUR OWN COUNTRY.

    HOW WOULD THE GOVERNMENT INFORM THE CITIZENS THROUGH THE MEDIA WHEN THE BLACKOUT WOULD HAVE HAD THE MEDIA CUT OUT FROM CITIZENS, PREVENTING THEM FROM LISTENING TO THE TV OR RADIOS????????

    THE INFORMATION AND FULL DISCLOSURE WAS MADE AS SOON AS THE

    E L E C T R I C I T Y SUPPLY

    WAS RESTORED.

    OH, BUT HEY, THE FACT THAT CUBA WAS UNABLE TO MAINTAIN THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS BECAUSE YOUR WHITE “gods”

  6. I’M SURE THE CASTROFASCISTS WILL ONCE AGAIN ASK FOR THE CUBAN 5 SPIES IN TRADE FOR GROSS! THIS TIME IN A FORMAL STATEMENT! THAT’S WHY GROSS WAS TAKEN HOSTAGE TO BEGIN WITH! THEY ARE USING ALAN GROSS’ CURRENT HEALTH ISSUES IN ORDER TO PRESSURE OBAMA FOR THE TRADE!

    CUBA CONFIDENTIAL: The source for news on Cuban espionage worldwide

    HAVANA — A senior Cuban diplomat said Wednesday her country is prepared to negotiate a solution in the case of a jailed American contractor, but is awaiting a U.S. response. Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal also rejected allegations by the wife of 63-year-old Maryland native Alan Gross that her husband’s health is failing after more than 2 1/2 years in custody. “Cuba reiterates its willingness to talk with the United States government to find a solution in the case of Mr. Gross and continues to await an answer,” Vidal, who heads the ministry’s Office of North American Affairs, said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. She gave no details. It was the first time a Cuban official has hinted that a specific proposal has been made and indicated that the ball was in Washington’s court. Previously, senior officials in President Raul Castro’s government have raised the case of five Cuban agents sentenced to long jail terms in the United States, though they have not spelled out publicly that they are seeking an exchange. U.S. officials say privately, however, that Havana has made it increasingly clear they want a quid pro quo, something Washington has repeatedly rejected.

    Gross’s wife, Judy, traveled to Cuba and visited her husband in custody several times last week. She said upon her return to the United States that she feared he would not survive his ordeal. Gross, who was obese when he was arrested in December 2009, has lost more than 100 pounds in custody. His wife and lawyer say he also suffers from arthritis and has developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade that is not believed to be cancerous.

    Vidal said the American’s physical condition is fine. “Mr. Gross’s health continues to be normal and he exercises regularly,” she said in the brief statement.

    Gross was working on a USAID-funded democracy building program when he was arrested at Havana’s Jose Marti airport. He says he was only trying to provide internet service to the island’s small Jewish community. Cuba says the multimillion dollar programs are an effort by Washington to undermine the government, and has noted that Gross was carrying sophisticated communications equipment. Gross was sentenced to 15 years, and has lost his final appeal, leaving him out of legal options.

    Editor’s Note: Josefina Vidal left the US in 2003 when her husband and 13 other spy-diplomats were thrown out of the United States. Vidal and Maria Cristina Delgado Suarez (wife of expelled spy Raul Rodriguez Averhoff) both left the country voluntarily. That said, both women were known to US authorities as Cuban intelligence officers and this fact played into the selection of their husbands for expulsion.

    cubaconfidential.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/cuba-says-its-ready-to-negotiate-gross-fate/

  7. ***
    The USA may have power failures soon. President Obama’s EPA has forced about 50 coal fired power plants to shut down. There may not be enough generation capacity to keep the lights and airconditioners working. To save the planet from pollution! Socialists and communists make bad engineers and bad businessmen.
    ***
    Los E.E.U. puede tenir falta de electricidad en poco tiempo. El EPA de Presidente Obama forco casi 50 plantas de electricidad que queman carbon a cerrar. Para salvar le planeta de pollucion! Es possible que no va ser bastante capacidad de generacion a usar las luces y aire acondicionados. Socialistas y communistas son malos ingenieros y malos negociantes.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  8. When Cuba suffers massive power failure, media blames nonexistent “sanctions”, as if Cuba can’t buy some cable and a few screwdrivers or anything else from China or Russia or 150 other countries. Or they blame a “black market”, as if that has nothing to do with Castro’s policies

    When the USA suffers a power failure, the media blames those who are responsible, the power companies.

    Communists never take responsibility for their actions. The power failure was caused by Cuban Power Inc, also known as Fidel and Family Inc, and nobody else.

  9. UPI NEWS SERVICE: Cuba outage points to infrastructure flaws – The worst power outage in recent Cuban history has spotlighted a flaw in the plan to wean Cuba from communism into a Chinese-style “socialist capitalism.”

    HAVANA, Sept. 12 (UPI) — The worst reported power outage in recent Cuban history has spotlighted a flaw in President Raul Castro’s plan to wean the country from communism into a Chinese-style “socialist capitalism.”

    Castro’s slow, tentative moves toward a market economy are likely to find the country’s antiquated energy infrastructure cannot cope with a steady growth in consumption and demand.

    The economic liberalization comes with many caveats and preconditions to fulfill some communist ideals but it is spiking electricity demand as more Cubans set up businesses and shops.

    This week’s power outage affected several million of the 11 million Cubans, including most of Havana’s 2.2 million residents.

    The website of the state-run newspaper Trabajadores said the outage occurred as a transmission line between Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara developed a fault, interrupting power supplies between the western side of the island and the center of Havana.

    Power outages have been endemic and frequent in Cuba, sometimes lasting several hours, but the latest interruption was the longest and hardest to repair.

    Cuban authorities say the country’s infrastructure has been weakened by lack of spare parts and alternative equipment, a result of prolonged sanctions, import cuts and a black market that isn’t easily accessible to most Cubans.

    Critics of the Raul Castro’s administration say the outages are partly the result of mismanagement and depleted expertise.

    Interruptions in supply and power surges are commonplace. Cubans have responded to the problem by using surge protectors for everything from computers to refrigerators.

    The Ministry of Basic Industry in a statement cited an “interruption” in a 220,000-volt transmission line between the cities of Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara, which caused the power outage.

    At least three provinces were affected but technicians using emergency generators were able to restore power after repair work that lasted about 5 hours.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/09/12/Cuba-outage-points-to-infrastructure-flaws/UPI-40491347448451/?spt=hs&or=er

  10. BBC NEWS: Cuba profile – Media – September 12, 2012

    The Cuban media are tightly controlled by the government and journalists must operate within the confines of laws against anti-government propaganda and the insulting of officials which carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

    Private ownership of broadcast media is prohibited, and the government owns all mainstream media outlets.

    Cuba is the only country in the Americas not to allow a non-state independent press, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Official media “serve first and foremost to transmit propaganda for the regime”.

    The US tries hard to reach Cuban audiences. Washington-backed Radio-TV Marti says it provides “balanced, uncensored” news for Cubans.

    Citing UN data, Internetworldstats.com says there were 1.7 million internet users by December 2011.

    US-based NGO Freedom House says most users are connected to the “closely-monitored” government intranet, and not the internet proper. A small but vibrant band of bloggers faces harassment and intimidation, it adds.

    Cuba is one of RSF’s “Enemies of the Internet”. Connection problems are also the result of restrictions under the US embargo, says the press freedom group.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-19578348

  11. Pingback: Cuba Travel, Political Voyeurism | The Poblete DC Dispatches

  12. Nicolás Antonio Jiménez WAS NICE ENOUGH TO TAKE THE TIME TO TRANSLATE INTO ENGLISH YOANI’S VIDEO! HE IS LIKE A MALE MARIA (our friendly English translator)!

    YOUTUBE: Yoani Sánchez’s passport is full, but she still can’t leave Cuba / El pasaporte de Yoani Sánchez . Yoani Sánchez has gotten enough foreign visas on her passport to fill every page, and yet she hasn’t been able to use any of them to leave Cuba. That’s because, despite her having gotten permission from plenty of governments to ENTER other countries (to receive awards, speak at events, and other things), the Cuban regime won’t allow her to LEAVE her own. Yoani Sanchez is the author of the blog Generacion Y. Her work has won her numerous awards for journalism and digital media. She’s also been named one of the world’s 100 most influential people and one of the world’s top 25 bloggers by TIME magazine. Turn on CC for English subtitles in YouTube. As mentioned above, I don’t own this video, but the original uploader has granted use rights under the Creative Commons Attribution License. I simply uploaded it here to ensure English speakers could get Yoani’s message.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDWKa7L6NjQ&feature=player_embedded

  13. Republic of Cuba: Power Sector Infrastructure Assessment – Dr. Manuel Cereijo, P.E.
    University of Miami – December, 2010

    Executive Summary
    After almost 52 years, the Castro’s socialist experiment has exposed Cuba to the economic turmoil and decay that are the hallmarks of a command economy: stagnation, heavy debt burdens, and inefficient industries, deterioration of the infrastructure, declining standards of living, and shortages of basic goods. In order to better prepare the conditions for a successful transition it is absolutely basic to have comprehensive and detailed information about the state of the Cuban economy and infrastructure. That is, the new government and private investors will need a feasibility study, an assessment, of the country, including such areas as: present state of the main industries, availability of skilled labor, communication systems, conditions of roads, airports, seaports, railroads, water and sanitation, and, of course, the electrical energy infrastructure. We believe this study will be one of the greatest contributions, prior to the transition, to assist in the economic recuperation of Cuba.

    The study has been divided into three parts or periods of time, that define clearly the
    stages that the electrical system in Cuba has gone through:
    (a) 1959-1989
    (b) 1990-1997
    (c) 1998-2010

    The emphasis on the report is on the last period, since it is the period of interest for the purpose of the study. The last decade has been one of mixed results. From 1998 to approximately 2004, there was some progress in the electrical energy system. However, the continuous use of domestic oil, the age of several units, which has produced breakdowns in some of the major plants, have created a crisis in the system, and the government has tried to solve it by purchasing small diesel and fuel oil plants, as well as the use of gas for fuel, in what they call Energas.

    There are only seven main plants, out of the 17 plants that are mentioned as part of Union Electrica, with a capacity above 50MW. They are:

    1. Antonio Maceo, formerly Rente
    2. Antonio Guiteras, Matanzas
    3. Lidio Ramon Perez, Felton
    4. Maximo Gomez, Mariel
    5. 10 de Octubre, Nuevitas
    6. Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, Cienfuegos
    7. Este de La Habana, Santa Cruz del Norte
    http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/Appendices/Appendix_D_Power/Cereijo_2010a.pdf

  14. HUFFINGTON POST: Alan Gross Case: Wife Fears For Life Of American Jailed In Cuba – By PAUL HAVEN

    HAVANA — The wife of imprisoned American Alan Gross said Tuesday she has returned from a trip to Cuba to see her husband, and is fearful he will not survive his long incarceration.

    Judy Gross said her husband has developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade, and suffers from degenerative arthritis and other ailments. The mass is not believed to be cancerous.

    The 63-year-old Maryland native, who was obese at the time of his arrest in December 2009, has lost 105 pounds while in custody and now appears gaunt in photos released from a Havana military hospital where he is being held.

    “I am devastated by his appearance,” Judy Gross wrote in the statement following her return to the United States. “While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal.”

    She begged Cuban President Raul Castro to “put an end to our anguish and let Alan come home.”

    There was no immediate reaction from Cuba’s government to Judy Gross’s plea.

    The lawyer also said he has filed a petition with the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The body has no enforcement power, but a ruling in Gross’s favor could add to international pressure on Havana in the case.

    Genser said Cuba has 60 days to respond, and that the working group will next meet on Nov 14.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/alan-gross-cuba_n_1874094.html

  15. CUBANET NEWS: LGBT activist Leannes Imbert arrested today – Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012

    HAVANA, Cuba, September 11, (Lucas Garve) – Two police officers presented themselves around 8 am today at the home of Leannes Imbert and she was taken away. Leannes managed to send a text message from her mobile, reporting on her arrest, but at the time of this post her wherabouts are not known. She is scheduled to be part of a forum that will take place at NYC Library via phone on Sept. 15 (see info below)

    NYC LIBRARY: LGBT Lives in Contemporary Cuba – Saturday, September 15, 2012, 3 p.m. -Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Langston Hughes Auditorium. Free – Registration required or call (212) 491-2040. Although Cuba has made major advances in LGBT rights in recent years, homophobia remains a problematic human rights issue. A panel of scholars, writers, and activists, featuring Jafari Allen, Emilio Bejel, Mabel Cuesta, Ignacio Estrada, Leannes Imbert, and Achy Obejas, will discuss continuing challenges. Initial funding of the LGBT initiative provided by Time Warner Inc., with additional support from M.A.C. AIDS Fund, Arcus Foundation, and Friends of the LGBT Initiative.

    Imbert is a founding member and director of the Cuban Observatory LGBT Rights, an independent organization that advocates respect for the rights of the LGBT community in Cuba and seeks the preservation of historical memory about the persecution of homosexuals by the Cuban dictatorship.

    The LGBT OBCUD is currently engaged in organizing an exhibition on the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP), forced labor camps in which the Cuban government confined tens of thousands of homosexuals and religious persons during the decade of the 60’s.

    The investigation of that dark episode of homophobia and the organization of the exhibition are being made in addition of an investigation into the matter that was promised the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) an supposedly “independent organization”, which counts with full government support, and is directed by Dr. Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of General Raul Castro. The LGBT OBCUD has offered its cooperation to CENESEX in conducting a joint investigation, but Dr. Castro Espin has rejected.

    Since its inception, the project OBCUD LGBT, led by Leannes Imbert, has irked the authorities and especially the CENESEX, which for some years intend to monopolize the representation of the LGBT community in Cuba.

    Leannes, who is also a contributor to Cubanet and other independent media is often harassed for her activities, and has been detained and interrogated by the State Security repeatedly.

    ORIGINAL ARTICLE IN SPANISH BELOW WITH LINK
    http://www.cubanet.org/noticias/detenida-hoy-activista-lgtb-leannes-imbert/

  16. The blackout affected near 5 million people, around 45% of the population of 11.2 million, from Ciego de Avila to Pinar del Rio. This is the worst blackout in the last ten years. It looks like the beginning of another energy crisis. A physical manifestation of what has been going on in Cuba since 1959 when the Castroit regime took contol of the political power.

  17. Cuban Police Crack Down on Demonstration by Pakistani Medical Students- September 09, 2010

    Cuban police armed with assault rifles, bayonets and full riot gear shut down a demonstration Wednesday by medical students from Pakistan protesting what they say is the inferior education they are getting in Cuba.

    The foreigners, studying medicine in Jaguey Grande, outside Matanzas, Cuba, have been in an ongoing fight over a government-run university system that they say does not measure up to the requirements they need to pass the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) examination.
    The students are demanding more university hospital facilities from the Cuban government, and an education sufficient to pass their exams to become licensed physicians when they return home to Pakistan, Babalublog.com reported.

    In video posted on YouTube, the Pakistani protesters came face-to-face with a wall of riot police who had spread out over the campus.

  18. INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Foreign degree: Students in Cuba want exemption from NEB test – By Ali Usman

    LAHORE: Around 1,000 Pakistani students studying medicine in Cuba have demanded from the Government of Pakistan that, upon their return, they be exempted from sitting for the National Examination Board (NEB) test before practising medicine.
    The NEB test is mandatory for foreign medical graduates to qualify for medical practice.

    The Cuban government offered 1,000 Cuban Scholarships for Studies in General Comprehensive Medicine (equivalent to MBBS) after the 2005 earthquake. The first batch of 308 students, selected from across Pakistan, had left for Cuba in 2007.

    The Pakistani students in Cuba have prepared a detailed report in this regard and sent a copy to the Cuban government.

    The report, available to The Express Tribune, details the process through which the students were selected by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). It says that the students had excellent grades in FSc exams and were doing well in Cuba.

    The student requested asked that the “comprehensive final State Exam of Cuba held after the completion of medical training in the last year before the award of the degree of Doctor in Medicine (M.D) should be accepted as the final evaluation of Pakistani medical scholars in Cuba, as is done by the respective authorities in 55 other countries.

    They have proposed that Pakistani authorities visit Cuba and hold talks with the Cuban authorities concerned.

    The students claim that the NEB is meant for foreign graduates who study abroad on self-finance basis, and should therefore not apply to them considering they were granted a scholarship.

    A final-year medical student, studying in Cuba, told The Express Tribune via email, that preparing and sitting for the NEB test and IELTS would take them a year. He said a Pakistani delegation comprising former senator Nilofer Bakhtiar, Prof Dr Riaz Hussein Qureshi (HEC adviser) and Prof Dr Abdur Rasheed (PMDC member) had, in 2010, visited the Cuban universities and expressed satisfaction with the quality of education.

    The PMDC Registrar Dr Ahmad Nadeem Akbar said the council would not exempt the Pakistani medical students in Cuba from the NEB test. “They had signed a bond, saying they will have to pass the NEB test before starting practice in Pakistan.”

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/434545/foreign-degree-students-in-cuba-want-exemption-from-neb-test/

  19. gatina66 !! YOU HEAR IT MAYBE BECAUSE IS TRUE!

    YOUTUBE : Documentary : ” Cuba y los Elefantes ” – Versión completa- Complete film (with English sub-titles)- A look at Cuba, in reality beyond its tourist attractions. A documentary that takes us to reflect on the achievements of the socialist system and proclaim what the Cuban people really live. A production of the Political Institute for Freedom Peru

    Una mirada a Cuba, a su realidad más allá de sus atractivos turísticos. Un documental que nos lleva a reflexionar sobre los logros que se pregonan del sistema socialista y lo que verdaderamente vive el pueblo cubano. Una producción del Instituto Político para la Libertad Perú (iplperu.org).

  20. BELLINGHAM HERALD: 13 Cuban dissidents begin hunger strike – By JUAN O. TAMAYO

    MIAMI – One of Cuba’s most tenacious dissidents, Martha Beatriz Roque, announced Monday that she and 12 other opposition activists had begun hunger strikes to highlight the growing number of government abuses, which appear to have become “almost normal.”

    “This is a tremendously difficult time for dissidents because the fact that they (government security agents) detain one person or beat another has become routine,” Roque said. “Now the world sees that as something almost normal.”

    Another dozen dissidents around the country will also fast, Roque said by phone from Havana. Seven men are in prison and five are free, among them Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as Antunez, who has been arrested briefly dozens of times in recent months.

    Although such short-term arrests usually draw little news media attention, they put strong pressure on dissidents to stop their activities. And their numbers have been rising steeply since President Raul Castro succeeded his older brother, Fidel, in 2008.

    The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation in Havana (CCHRNR) last week reported 521 such brief arrests in August, compared withto243 in August 2011 and 184 in August of 2010.

    Roque, 67, an economist who has served a total of five years in prison, was the only woman jailed during the 2003 crackdown on 75 peaceful dissidents known as Cuba’s Black Spring. She was sentenced to 20 years but was freed in 2005 because of her delicate health.

    She said Monday that she has diabetes and that her water-only fast could easily kill her in just 48 hours. Roque said that she will refuse all medicines and medical attention, and had already written a will.

    Asked what would make her and the other dissidents give up their hunger strikes, she spoke in general about government human rights abuses like the short-term detentions and other controls on activists’ movements, and mentioned two specific demands.

    One was for the release of Jorge Vasquez Chaviano, a dissident jailed for six months for a common crime. Roque said he was due to be freed Sunday from a prison in central Villa Clara province, but was not and is one of the seven inmates on the hunger strike.

    Another demand was for the government to fix the home of Misael Valdes in the eastern town of Palma Soriano. Valdes and his wife were arrested briefly last week and when they returned home they found that government supporters had ripped off the wooden sides of their home and smashed their TV, fan, bed and dinner plates, according to Roque.

    Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/09/10/2684616/13-cuban-dissidents-begin-hunger.html#storylink=cpyCLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/09/10/2684616/13-cuban-dissidents-begin-hunger.html

    Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello (born May 16, 1945) is a Cuban political dissident. She is an economist by training, and the founder as well as director of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists. Agence France-Presse described her in 2007 as Cuba’s “leading woman dissident”.In 1997, Roque, Vladimiro Roca, Felix Bonne and Rene Gomez Manzano published a paper titled “The Homeland Belongs to All,” which discussed Cuba’s human rights situation and called for political and economic reforms.[2] They also called for a boycott of elections in Cuba’s one-party system and for investors to avoid Cuba,[3] giving several news conferences to discuss their concerns.[4]

    FOR MORE INFORMATION LOOK UP HER WIKIPEDIA PAGE!

  21. In this side of the world, the only news we always hear about Cuba is misery, delay, hunger, problems, lie, repression, no money, illness, disrespect, abuse, mistreatment, falsehood, sadness, submission !! my god what a misery life!

  22. Thank you, YFET.

    Yoani’s post says it all, even a blackout will be lied about by the government.

    The only thing the communist media don’t lie about is the weather, maybe because the weatherman always lies anyways?

  23. Please — Ladies and Gentleman… can we start (and end) the discussion on this new post with less name calling, and fewer obscenities, and personal attacks. Thank you.

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