Yvette Garrido rushed last week to get 13 pounds of subsidized chicken given to her family by the Cuban government and put it in the freezer, happy to have meat Hurricane Jan.

She is now considering giving the chicken to her three dogs before it goes bad massive power outage caused a storm has been going on for more than two days, and everything in her freezer is defrosting in scorching temperatures.

The government did not say what percentage of the population remains without electricity, but electrical authorities said only 10% of Havana’s 2 million residents had electricity on Thursday.

“We’re not having a very good time trying to survive, not to let things thaw,” said Garrido, who lives with her mother and 19-year-old daughter in the city of Cojimar on the outskirts of Havana.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans face similar situations.

Small protests appeared in Havana on Thursday evening with people who need electricity restored.

An Associated Press reporter saw a total of about 400 people gathered in at least two locations in the Serre area, shouting “We want light, we want light” and banging pots and pans.

Yang crossed western Cuba on Tuesday before heading north to Florida. It initially knocked out power in a few provinces, but problems worsened and soon the power grid collapsed across the country, affecting 11 million people, the first total blackout in living memory.

Cuban electric company workers repair power lines after Hurricane Yan in El Cerro, Cuba, on September 29, 2022.

YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images

The storm also killed three people and caused untold damage.

Power was restored in parts of Cuba on Wednesday, while it went on and off again in other parts. Experts said the complete blackout showed the vulnerability of Cuba’s energy system.

The authorities have promised to work on solving the problem without rest.

Half a dozen Havana residents interviewed by The Associated Press on Thursday were stressed by the lack of electricity, which also left them without water as electric motors power the pumps that feed water to their faucets. Many households are unable to cook because they use electric stoves following a campaign by the authorities to eliminate artisanal stoves.

“We’ve never been without power this long,” Garrido said. “It was delivered in 24 hours, in 36, and already more than 48 have passed. This is criminal. Who is responsible for this?”

She placed bottles of frozen water in the freezer next to the chicken, along with the pork and sausages, to try to preserve the meat longer. The fan and TV are also waiting for the power to come back on.

An AP call to a dozen people in Cuba’s main cities — Holguín, Guantanamo, Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey and Santiago — found similar problems to Havana, with most saying their areas were still without power.

Cubans line up to buy bread in Havana, September 29, 2022, after the passage of Hurricane Yan.


Authorities say the total power outage was caused by a communications failure between Cuba’s three regions — west, center and east — caused by Yan’s winds.

Cuba’s electricity system “was already in a critical state with weakened immunity as a result of the deterioration of thermal power plants. Now the patient is on life support,” said Jorge Piñon, director of the Latin American Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy. and the Caribbean, Latin American and Caribbean Program at the University of Texas.

The relationship “is a perfect analogy for the domino effect, where you knock over a domino and it knocks over all the others in a chain reaction,” he said.

Cuba is experiencing an economic crisis caused by a combination of US sanctions, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and inefficiencies. The island’s GDP fell by 11% in 2020 and grew by 1.3% in 2021. Cubans were already living with scheduled power outages.

Cuba has 13 power plants, eight of which are traditional thermal power plants, and five floating power plants leased from Turkey since 2019. There is also a group of small power plants located throughout the country after the energy reform in 2006.

But the factories are poorly maintained, the government attributes this to a lack of funds and US sanctions. Difficulties with obtaining fuel are also a problem.

“Unfortunately, it will be a long recovery process that will also have to cover the generation deficit that existed before the hurricane, all at a high economic cost that the country cannot afford,” Piñon said.