Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela begins electricity rationing after blackouts

Electricity pylons over a shantytown in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo: April 2011
Image caption Venezuelans have had to cope with rolling blackouts in recent months

Venezuela is rationing electricity after blackouts affected nearly half the country earlier this week.

A senior energy ministry said power would be cut off for three hours a day in 19 of the country's 23 states.

The authorities hope the move will help make the distribution system more stable.

They say the blackouts were caused by failures in transmission lines. Critics blame the government for not investing enough in new electricity projects.

Last year, Venezuela had to cope with rolling blackouts for months.

President Hugo Chavez's government said at the time that the cutbacks were forced by a drought that sharply dropped water levels at the Guri dam which produces most of the country's electricity.

Mr Chavez lifted power rationing last June, but outages continued.

Opponents accuse the government - which has nationalised key industries and has set quotas and prices for some basic food items - of running the economy inefficiently.

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