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Top officials have ordered state-run companies to adopt “extreme measures” to save energy through the end of the year, shutting down non-essential production across the island in hopes of avoiding the chronic blackouts that afflicted the country in the 1990s, when the Soviet Union’s demise left Cuba in the dark.

"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 memo from Cuba’s Council of Ministers directing state managers to keep
air conditioners off indefinitely, and shut down refrigerators not needed for food or medicine.

"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," reads a memo distributed to Cuba’s light manufacturing sector.

Such warnings are especially unnerving to Cubans who endured the worst years of the post-Soviet era, which Fidel Castro euphemistically dubbed “The Special Period.” When Moscow’s generous oil shipments to the island abruptly ceased, public transportation virtually shut down and Cubans sweated through summer blackouts lasting 12 hours or more.


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