Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro lifts power rationing

A young woman tries to enter a cafe, closed due to a power cut, in Maracay, Venezuela, on April 25, 201 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many business had to reduce their opening hours due to the power cuts

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced the lifting of the power rationing that has been in place for two months.

From 25 April much of the country had its power cut off for four hours a day.

The measure was put in place after a drought caused the Guri dam, which produces almost two-thirds of the country's electricity, to reach critically low levels.

The power cuts came amidst an economic crisis and severe food shortages.

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Mr Maduro said that when he ordered the power cuts in April, Venezuela had been "six days away from a collapse, we were facing having to turn off almost the entire country".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Electricity Minister Luis Motta visited the Guri dam when it was at one of its lowest points in April

"Today we can say that Guri [hydroelectric dam] has recovered and we're in a position where we can resume normal service," he announced in a speech to supporters in Caracas.

The cuts caused widespread anger among Venezuelans already struggling with food shortages.

The government said the power shortage was down to a severe drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon which caused the level of the Guri dam to drop to a record low.

But critics blamed the authorities, saying they had failed to invest in Venezuela's electricity system and to make it less reliant on hydroelectric power.

As part of its efforts to conserve energy, the government ordered civil servants to work only two days a week.

President Maduro also asked women to refrain from using hair dryers and otherwise "wasting" energy.

The power cuts caused problems especially in hot regions of Venezuela where residents struggled to keep their food cool as fridges were turned off.

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