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Cuba Spreading Light Bulbs Around Caribbean
Friday, April 21, 2006   By: Juan Paxety

Why is Cuba saving energy in Jamaica when it has such problems at home?

What's this all about? Cuba is giving 70,000 energy saving light bulbs to Jamaica, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. Jamaica only asked for 30,000 bulbs to reduce energy consumption on the island, but Cuba gratuitously more than doubled that number. Phase one of the project is for Kingston East and Port Royal. But there's more.

Five hundred homes in each constituency will receive the bulbs in phase two, with East Kingston and Port Royal residents who missed out in phase one also receiving bulbs.

"These bulbs will add to the lives of Jamaicans in a positive way. It will improve their standard of living by reducing the energy they consume, thereby reducing their light bill," said Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology at the launch of phase one in February.

The bulbs will be exchanged for the residents regular bulbs - the old bulbs will be "symbolically destroyed." Whatever that means.

Workers from the ministry, together with those from the Cuban Government, will go door-to-door conducting the exchange of bulbs and surveying residents' energy use, including an inspection of their light bills. Those with illegal connections will also be included in an effort to encourage them to join the national grid.

Jamaica is not the only place that's getting bulbs from Cuba. Antiqua has been promised 215,00 bulbs by Cuba.

Now, this sounds like a nice gesture on the part of the wonderful, warm and generous fidel castro. But has been documented for years, Cuba has severe problems providing power to its own people. There are daily blackouts, and Cuba has had to buy new generators - in fact, one Reuters report says Cuba is " racing to install thousands of container-sized diesel generators across the island to avoid another situation like the one last summer when widespread blackouts fanned popular unrest."

fidel has taken personal responsibility for an energy revolution in Cuba and has spent $800-million on generators from Spain, Germany and South Korea. Last year, we reported that he is importing new rice cookers from China. And he's getting Cubans to use the new light bulbs. Cuba's electrical grid is a nightmare. Generators break down, in part because of the load, and in part because they are operated on locally produced high-sulphur oil that clogs them up.

So, here's the question. If Cuba has such terrible electrical problems, how is it able to spread light bulbs around the Caribbean? Why aren't Cubans getting the bulbs. Couldn't be because of that strange sentence quoted in the Jamaican newspaper could it? The one about how a Cuban would be going around to each house in Jamaica collecting light bulbs and checking to see if the house was properly attached to the electrical gird. What mischief could fidel make for Jamaica with that information?



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