Facing what government officials call a "critical" energy shortage, Cuba has ordered its state enterprises to take "extreme measures" to cut back its fuel consumption through the end of the year, Reuters reported.
The mandate requires closing non-essential factories and workshops and turning off air conditioners and refrigerators that aren't necessary for food preservation or medicinal purposes. Cuban President Raul Castro hopes to avoid blackouts like those that debilitated the country after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent loss of its oil supply.
"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," the Council of Ministers wrote in a recently circulated message obtained by Reuters.
Another internal memo directed the heads of companies to limit activities only to "those that guarantee exports, substitution of imports and basic services for the population."
Cuba has been hit hard by the global financial crisis and a string of hurricanes, forcing it to cut government spending and slash imports.
Over the summer, provincial governments and many state-run offices were ordered to reduce energy by at least 12 percent. According to reports from the state-run press, the measures were working, and up until now, warnings about the dire need to cut fuel consumption had died down.
Cuba receives almost two-thirds of its daily oil needs, or 93,000 barrels, from Venezuela. It pays for the crude oil by supplying its ally with medical personnel and other professionals, Reuters said.
The communist-run country also faces stiff sanctions from the U.S. that cut its access to international lending institutions, and it still rebuilding from last year's devastating hurricanes.