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Venezuela begins power rationing as drought causes severe outages
Posted by don Saturday, 2018-March-17
By Anggy Polanco and Isaac Urrutia
SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela imposed electricity rationing this week in six western states, as the crisis-hit country's creaky power grid suffered from a drought that has reduced water levels in key reservoirs needed to run hydroelectric power generators.
The four-hour formal outages began on Thursday. But many residents scoffed at the announcement, wryly noting that they have been suffering far more extended blackouts during the last week.
"We have spent 14 hours without electricity today. And yesterday electricity came and went: for six hours we had no power," said Ligthia Marrero, 50, in the western state of San Cristobal, noting that her fridge had been damaged by the frequent interruptions.
Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela's power supply for years. Now, the situation has been exacerbated by dwindling rains.
In the worst-hit western cities, business has all but ground to a halt at a time when the OPEC nation of 30 million is already suffering hyperinflation and a profound recession. Many Venezuelans are unable to eat properly on salaries of just a couple of dollars per month at the black market rate, sparking malnutrition, emigration and frequent sights of Venezuelans digging through trash or begging in front of supermarkets.
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