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Venezuela begins rationing water, electricity

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Some 6 million people in Venezuela's capital may have to go three days a week without water after authorities began implementing a rationing plan on Wednesday.

The government said the emergency plan in Caracas is needed to confront the crippling drought that has brought the water level at Lagartijo reservoir down to near record lows, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

But opponents of the socialist government are blaming President Nicolas Maduro for failing to implement a plan months ago.

Carlos Ocariz, mayor of the capital's Sucre district, said there hasn't been a single reservoir built during 15 years of socialist rule.

"We didn't have to wait for things to reach this point to begin taking action," he said in a statement.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that the government will also start rationing electricity in western Zulia state, one day after Ford Motor Co. halted production in the country.

"This is another acknowledgment that the country is not working," Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, told Bloomberg. "If this spreads to the rest of the country and becomes a nationwide rationing of electricity, it will significantly cut into Maduro's support."

In 2009, water levels at many hydroelectric power generators in the country fell to critical levels, triggering blackouts across the country.

"We're running the risk of living a new electricity crisis like the one that started in 2009 if water levels at the Guri dam do not recover in the next four months," Miguel Lara, a former president of Venezuela's grid regulator, told the paper.

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