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Cuba’s Energy Crisis: The Canary in the Coal Mine?

Cuba is the dead canary in the coalmine, says Michael Ruppert, the longtime peak-oil activist who is the subject of the documentary Collapse and the author of the forthcoming Confronting Collapse (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010).

He points us to this Reuters AlertNet story. Cuba is currently experiencing an energy crisis, which internal government documents deem “critical.” Factories are shutting down and government spending has been cut, all in an effort to prevent blackouts similar to the ones suffered after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. To look at how Cuba handles the crisis, and their success or failure, is to take a peek into a post-peak oil future for all of us.

HAVANA, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Cuba has ordered all state enterprises to adopt “extreme measures” to cut energy usage through the end of the year in hopes of avoiding the dreaded blackouts that plagued the country following the 1991 collapse of its then-top ally, the Soviet Union.

In documents seen by Reuters, government officials have been warned that the island is facing a “critical” energy shortage that requires the closing of non-essential factories and workshops and the shutting down of air conditioners and refrigerators not needed to preserve food and medicine.

Cuba has cut government spending and slashed imports after being hit hard by the global financial crisis and the cost of recovering from three hurricanes that struck last year.

“The energy situation we face is critical and if we do not adopt extreme measures we will have to revert to planned blackouts affecting the population,” said a recently circulated message from the Council of Ministers.

“Company directors will analyze the activities that will be stopped and others reduced, leaving only those that guarantee exports, substitution of imports and basic services for the population,” according to another distributed by the light industry sector.

President Raul Castro is said to be intent on not repeating the experience of the 1990s, when the demise of the Soviet Union and the loss of its steady oil supply caused frequent electricity blackouts and hardship for the Cuban public.

Read the whole article here.


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