Cuba renews appliance sales amid economic changes

Cuba renews appliance sales amid economic changes

Cuban President Raul Castro.

July 31, 2011, Sunday/ 16:16:00

Cuba is renewing sales of energy-sucking appliances, reversing a pillar of Fidel Castro's "energy revolution" in response to popular demand and to support the growing ranks of independent workers under an economic overhaul launched by President Raul Castro.

The measure covers appliances such as air conditioners, electric stoves, coffee makers, grills and sandwich makers. The appliances will begin going on sale gradually as they become available, according to a notice published in the Official Gazette and dated Friday. It said the action was aimed at "supplying products to the population and independent workers.” Appliance sales have been largely restricted since 2003, and they were key targets of former President Fidel Castro's "energy revolution." That initiative sought to replace aging, inefficient kitchen appliances that taxed Cuba's shaky electrical grid and contributed to frequent summer blackouts that lasted for hours.

The former leader regularly appeared on television to push conservation measures and flog less-power-hungry rice steamers and pressure cookers. Government workers went door to door in many neighborhoods to replace incandescent light bulbs with more-efficient alternatives. Officials also overhauled the antiquated electrical grid.

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