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.
The directives follow government warnings in the summer that too much energy was being used
and blackouts would follow if consumption was not reduced.
All provincial governments and most state-run offices and factories, which encompasses 90 percent of Cuba's economic activity
, were ordered in June to reduce energy use by a minimum of 12 percent or face mandatory electricity cuts.
The measures appeared to resolve the crisis as state-run press published stories about the amount of energy that had been saved and the dire warnings died down. The only explanation given for the earlier warnings was that Cuba was consuming more fuel than the government had money to pay for