Late Tuesday night, after Hurricane Ian ravaged the western part of the island, Cuba’s electrical grid collapsed, leaving the country’s population of 11 million people entirely without power.
Lázaro Guerra, Technical Director of the Electric Union of Cuba, said the storm caused a failure in the national electric system and vowed that the union would work through the night to restore power.
But by Thursday, most of the country was still without power. Angry Cubans in Havana and other cities took to the streets to protest the lack of power, banging pots and pans and demanding electrical service.
The day before, the Electrical Union said it had restored service in some areas but said getting the power completely restored would take much longer.
In Havana, a group of protesters, mostly women, chanted “Turn on the power!” while blocking Calzada del Cerro, one of the city’s busy streets. Once the crowd started gaining attention, the lights in the area suddenly came back on.
But as one protest died out, another quickly took its place.
Independent news outlets reported protestors on the streets in the Havana towns of Guanabacoa and La Palma, as well in the towns of Ayestarán and 19 de Mayo.
Naturally, the Cuban regime’s response to the protests was to deploy a heavy police presence while squeezing off internet access to prevent word of the protests from spreading online.
On Thursday, Netblock, the internet observatory that tracks network shutdowns, tweeted that there had been a near-total collapse of internet traffic in Cuba as the Cuban regime tried to “limit the free flow of information” to quell the riots.
Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Cuban regime had requested emergency assistance from the Biden administration in the aftermath of the hurricane.
According to the Journal, the Biden administration was considering the request provided the Cuban regime prioritize sanitation, hospitals, water pumping facilities, and other critical infrastructure.