Chavez Declares Electricity Emergency
Venezuelan leader blames drought, capitalism for shortages
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2010 4:17 AM CST
San Ignacio mall in Caracas is seen with its lights turned off to reduce electricity consumption. Venezuela relies on a single dam to generate most of its electricity.   (AP Photo/Leonardo Ramirez)
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(Newser) – Hugo Chavez has declared a state of emergency, giving his government extra powers to deal with chronic electricity shortages. The Venezuelan leader announced measures including a 100% surcharge on electric bills that show a 10% increase in usage. Chavez warned that the worst drought in decades has hit hydroelectric production hard and could threaten the country's economy, CNN reports.

"All of this is the result of the destructive system of capitalism, which is unleashing horrific phenomena that are lashing the world," Chavez said last night on the inaugural broadcast of his Suddenly Chavez radio show. Critics charge that years of incompetent management and lack of investment in energy infrastructure are the real cause of the problem.