Cuba’s power grid gradually came back online yesterday morning after a massive blackout left 5 million Cubans without electricity on Sunday evening. The outage affected Havana and much of the western half of the island and was caused by an “interruption in a transmission line” near Ciego de Avila, 250 miles west of the capital, according to the Ministry of Basic Industries.
Electricity began to return to the capital around 1:00 a.m. yesterday morning and the most of the city was back online by 9:00 a.m. While the blackout primarily affected western Cuba, outages were reported as far away as Santiago, the nation’s second-largest city located about 475 miles away on the eastern tip of the island. Cuba’s electric company said yesterday that further outages might occur at peak hours throughout the day, but that it hoped to have normal service restored by today.
Minor blackouts are not uncommon in Cuba due to the country’s antiquated electrical system. But Sunday’s outage was reminiscent of the frequent, massive blackouts that plagued the island in the early 1990s. The period of economic depression that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, known in Cuba as the Special Period, caused major fuel and electricity shortages that made Sunday’s events a near-daily occurrence.