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Power blackouts in Cuba to last through end of year

HAVANA - Power blackouts that have plagued Cubans all summer will continue through the end of the year, an electricity official told local media in an interview published Thursday.

"It can't be asserted that there will be total stability ... We should be achieving that at the end of this year," Victor Puentes, head of energy saving for the government's Electricity Union power company, told the Communisty Party's daily newspaper Granma.

Residents in Havana have suffered up to 11 hours a day without electricity in recent weeks, testing their nerves and prompting some to go out on their balconies and scream in residential neighborhoods.

Energy-saving measures adopted early last month appear to have done little to help ease the blackouts, which historically plague Cuba during the sweltering summer when residential electricity demands rise sharply with children home from school, adults on vacation, and fans and air conditioners running almost constantly.

While Cuba now produces all of the crude it needs to fill the nation's electrical needs, the island's overall electrical infrastructure remains limited.

Hurricane Charley only exacerbated infrastructure problems when it ripped through Cuba Aug. 13, knocking out power in the western provinces of Havana and Pinar del Rio.

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