Cubans in several neighborhoods in Havana and other cities took to the streets again on Friday, banging pots and pans and demanding the restoration of electrical service as they had done Thursday, after a failure in Cuba’s dilapidated power grid left the country in near total darkness since Tuesday.
Cuba’s Electrical Union blamed Hurricane Ian, which battered western Cuba on Tuesday, for the blackout. The company said Thursday it had restored the service in some places, but providing power to the entire nation will take much longer. After several hours without electricity, which for many also meant no running water, hundreds of Cubans said they had enough.
“Turn on the power!” a group of people, mostly women, chanted while they blocked the Calzada del Cerro, a busy Havana avenue, late Thursday afternoon. With her fridge leaking water, food spoiled, and facing mosquitoes and the heat, a woman who asked not to be identified told the Miami Herald she decided to join the protest.
“Everyone is tired,” a man is heard saying in one of the videos. “Here, we don’t have revolution but... repression.”
After the crowd started getting attention and grew, the lights in that area suddenly came back on.
But as that protest fizzled, others started to pop up around the city.
Videos circulating on social media showed crowds protesting in Arroyo Naranjo and San Francisco de Paula, in the province of Havana. In San Francisco de Paula, a group of people sat in the street banging pots and pans; known as cacerolazos. There were reports of cacerolazos in other Havana neighborhoods like Nuevo Vedado, Marianao and Boyeros, and in the city of Cárdenas in Matanzas.
Early Friday morning, independent news outlet Cubanet reported that residents were banging pots in the Havana towns of Guanabacoa and La Palma. Independent journalist Ismario Rodríguez said a similar protest took place in towns of Ayestarán and 19 de Mayo. Several social media users also reported people banging pots in Santos Suárez, another Havana neighborhood.
As the protests went on, images of heavy police deployment also started to circulate as well as reports of internet service disruptions. Several state media websites, including Granma and Cubadebate, could not be accessed from abroad.
“Confirmed: Metrics show a near-total collapse of internet traffic from Cuba amid reports of major protests over power cuts and poor conditions exacerbated by Hurricane Ian, with security forces deployed; incident likely to limit the free flow of information,” Netblock, the internet’s observatory tracking network shutdowns, said on Twitter.