Venezuela

Venezuela's government imposed rolling blackouts of up to four hours every other day throughout the country on Jan. 12 to combat an energy crisis. President Hugo Chavez has said rationing is necessary to prevent water levels in Guri Dam - the cornerstone of Venezuela's energy system - from falling to critical lows and causing a widespread power collapse. Drought has cut the flow of water into the dam, which feeds three hydroelectric plants that supply 73 percent of Venezuela's electricity. The government recently reduced the hours of electricity supply for shopping centers and required businesses and large residential complexes to cut energy use by 20 percent or face fines. Some parts of the country have already been enduring unplanned blackouts for months, as demand has outstripped the electrical supply. (AP)

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