Protests in Cuba have resulted from Hurricane Ian’s aftermath. The protests are in response to the major damage to the island’s infrastructure, which led to numerous power blackouts. In response, the Diaz-Canel regime reacted to protests, thereby crushing dissent. By and large, Hurricane Ian exposed Cuban energy infrastructure’s weaknesses and the government’s inability to conduct a timely response.
Key Judgment 1: There is a realistic probability energy problems will rise again in the next six months in Cuba, thereby leading to further public protests.
- The Cuban regime poorly maintains the 13 power generators stationed on the island [source].
- Cuba suffers from sanctions and lacks the funding to maintain upkeep of its key infrastructure [source].
- The decrease in power resulted in a crisis of food insecurity, including temporary food and medicine shortages [source] and [source].
- Furthermore, the crisis also led to internet outages after the hurricane hit [source].
- The 624 protests between July and August due to previous blackouts make an average of over 11 public demonstrations per day [source].
- Protestors demanded the restoration of power as well as a political change in Cuba [source].
- The free fall of the Cuban peso in the informal market could also trigger more discontent [source].
Key Judgment 2: It is likely Díaz-Canel’s government will continue to maintain its tight control of society and further protests in the next 6 months.
- Cuba’s government utilises repressive tactics as a method to ease social unrest amongst its citizenry [source].
- Cuba’s security bodies loyally supported the regime and suppressed the protests [source].
- Young military cadets’ and government supporters armed with baseball bats also intervened while chanting revolutionary slogans [source].
- The police have carried out 26 arrests since the 30th of September, mainly young people and artists [source].
- Alp Toker, director of Netblocks, stated that the suffered internet outages were another form of government repression against the protests [source].
- Cuban authorities’ control over the country’s information network makes them relatively powerful and efficient in countering social unrest [source].
Key Judgment 3: There is a realistic probability that Cuba’s urgent need for resources and US recent contact with Venezuela will further weaken the Cuban regime
- The total blackout highlighted Cuba’s urgent need for two factors that it lacks for its power grid: time and resources [source].
- The power outages led Havana to make a request to the US for emergency help [source].
- In March 2022, US officials traveled to Venezuela to see whether Caracas will distance itself from Moscow [source].
- As a result of the adopted sanctions against Russia, the US saw Venezuela as a potential alternative source of oil supplies [source].
- The US has been moving since May 2022 to ease economic sanctions on Maduro’s Venezuela [source].
- This geopolitical shift could weaken the only “stable” and pro-Russian block Cuba is part of [source].
Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 18th of November 2022