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Posted October 05, 2004 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Associated Press

A major Cuban government hotel chain temporarily closed at least 16 hotels across the island Friday under measures to combat severe problems in the country’s electrical system.

The hotels will reopen Nov. 1, said Maria de los Angeles Font, lawyer for the Hotel Riviera, among four hotels affected in the capital. “We are one of the highest consumers (of energy),” Font said in a telephone interview. “To not affect other sectors, this hotel is closing down.”

Guests were being moved to other hotels.

The other Havana hotels closed for October are the Neptuno, St. John’s and Villa Los Pinos, according to an e-mail the Gran Caribe hotel chain sent to travel operators.

The Puntarena, Villa Cuba, Laurel-Tortuga and Cabanas del Sol hotels are closed for the month in Varadero, a beach resort about 140 kilometers east of Havana. A half-dozen other hotels in Varadero will operate at limited capacity.

Hotels in Cayo Largo del Sur, Las Tunas, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba are also affected, according to the e-mail.

Cuba’s communist government announced Wednesday it would schedule energy-saving blackouts in neighborhoods and shut 118 power-consuming factories during October. The temporary closure of the hotels was not mentioned at the time.

The blackouts have created havoc in Cubans’ daily lives, affecting water service, spoiling food and silencing fans and air conditioners in the tropical heat.

President Fidel Castro appeared three subsequent nights this week on Cuban television to discuss the problems plaguing Cuba’s electrical grid in recent months.

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