After Hurricane Ian left Cuba in the dark, protesters took to the streets



CNN

Protesters in Cuba who are taking to the streets after Hurricane Ian damaged the island’s power grid may face criminal charges, the Cuban Attorney General’s office announced Saturday.

In a statement published in the island’s Communist Party newspaper Granma, prosecutors said they were investigating cases of arson and vandalism of state property, street closures and “insults to officials and law enforcement.”

In addition, the parents of minors participating in the protests may complain that they may endanger the children, the statement says.

Cuban police are usually quick to break up anti-government protests, but after Hurricane Ian exacerbated the island’s severe power shortages, Cubans on the island have taken to the streets to complain.

After forming in the southern Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba late last month as a Category 3 hurricane, southwest of La Coloma in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

The hurricane’s strong winds and rain killed at least three people, state media said, and knocked out power to the entire island.

Two of the deaths occurred in Pinar del Rio, where a woman died after a wall collapsed and a man died after his roof fell on him, state media reported.

The state’s National Electric System turned off electricity in Havana to prevent death and property damage until the weather improves. But the nationwide blackout was caused by storms and was not predicted.

The storm exacerbated the economic crisis facing Cuba, causing shortages of food, fuel and medicine. Blackouts were common across the island throughout the summer, leading to scattered anti-government protests. Those protests erupted after the hurricane made life difficult for already struggling Cubans.

Often at night, protesters in cities and towns bang pots and pans, angry at the government’s power cuts. Some protesters have called for the restoration of electric service, while others have called for the resignation of Cuba’s leaders.

Recent protests have not reached the scale of July 2021, when thousands of Cubans took to the streets to demand change in the largest anti-government demonstrations since the 1959 revolution.

After the government cut off the electricity last year, the residents of the small city of San Antonio de los Baños grew impatient. On July 11, 2021, they took to the streets in a rare public dissent on the island.

Cubans across the nation were able to live stream and participate in the unfolding protests in San Antonio de los Baños in real time.

Almost immediately, thousands of other Cubans were demonstrating. Some complained about the lack of food and medicine, others denounced high officials and demanded greater civil liberties. Unprecedented protests spread to small towns and cities.

Although Cuban officials have long blamed US sanctions for the island’s ills, in the summer of 2021 protesters lashed out at their government for deteriorating living conditions.

In a speech on state television, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed US sanctions for the island’s economic woes, said the protests were the result of a foreign-led subversion campaign and called on Cubans loyal to the revolution to return to the streets. . The state broke.

Cuban prosecutors said this summer that about 500 people were tried and sentenced in connection with the protests, in the island’s biggest mass trials in decades. Four to 30 years in prison for crimes that included sedition.