Under normal circumstances, Cuba is a country where electricity is provided to 98% of the population. There is one single energy production and supply system. The use of power generators ensures supply to crucial centers under any circumstances. And this will again be the case as soon as the power grids are restored.
It is worthwhile giving some thought every day to the cost of electricity; civilized life in today’s world would be impossible without it. The situation is still more challenging at the upcoming time of the year as nights grow longer and all lights and equipment are turned on at the same time, especially since most homes have several electrical appliances.
Reflecting on the subject would enable us to understand the predicament of many countries in the world that have import fuel. In Cuba water energy never abounded; it never could since we don’t have large rivers. Solar energy, a renewable and non-contaminant form of energy, though costly, is already being used at several thousand points to meet social needs. Finally, there is the wind energy, whose tests began under the destructive danger of the hurricanes. However, efforts to seek a response to growing energy needs will not stop on account of that.
Our electricity production basically depends on thermoelectric plants built throughout the country under the Revolution –they barely existed before—together with the extensive power grid required in a long and narrow island to compensate for regional deficits and for indispensable repairs.
Nevertheless, it is up to us to save fuel used daily not only to produce electricity but also in other national activities such as industry, transportation, construction, land cultivation, etc. I will not list them all because there are scores of activities where fuel is consumed, often more than necessary, both in Cuba and elsewhere. However, it is worse in our case because we have grown used to receiving from the Revolution many things that for which we have not worked. We even tend to forget that hurricanes exist, in combination with climate changes and other phenomena created by so-called civilization.
One piece of information that would help us illustrate such situation: the cost of Cuba’s annual energy consumption, at this year’s prices, is in excess of $8 billion.
On the other hand, if we add up the value of nickel, sugar and the production of the Scientific Complex, which are the three main export items, at current prices it would barely amount to $2 billion; and from these we have to deduct the expenses and necessary input to produce them.
Of course, these are not our only sources of hard currency income. Our homeland is receiving today a higher income from exporting services than it does from material exports. Perhaps, in a relatively short period of time, we might become oil exporters. We are already partly so, but of heavy crude oil that cannot be refined in Cuba due to our present limited capacity.
One conclusion that can be drawn from what has been said is that, faced with the excessive fuel demand of some state institutions, the response has been categorical: reduce the activities that you have thought or dreamed about.
Some of our comrades really dream of meeting all the “unbridled” demands of our people. What we need in our state is a strict discipline and an absolutely rational order of priorities. We should not recoil from establishing what should or should not be done based on the principle that nothing is easy, and that material goods can only be honorably created through intensive and quality work.
What must never be lacking under any circumstances, are the available means of transporting material, foodstuffs and resources for the most crucial productions and services.
I insist on the indispensable and crucial necessity – not of useless and ineffective bureaucratic work, but of indispensable and essential physical work. Not just being intellectuals, but also being workers, working with our hands.
Fidel Castro Ruz
October 2, 2008