Venezuela will switch off lights for hours at a time in Caracas and other cities such as oil town Maracaibo in planned blackouts to tackle power shortages that threaten President Hugo Chavez's support.
Officials announced the nationwide electricity rationing lasting at least until May on Tuesday and said even schools and small health clinics would be hit in South America's top oil exporter.
Venezuela mostly depends on hydroelectricity for its power and has been hard hit by a drought Chavez blames on the El Nino weather phenomenon.
"The rationing is at a national level and is for four hours every 48 hours," said Javier Alvarado, president of the Caracas Electricity corporation, which was nationalized in 2007 and previously belonged to U.S. company AES.
How this happens while setting on top of some the largest oil and natural gas reserves on the planet as well as consistently being in the top ten crude oil producers in the world can be testament only to the folly of a command and control economy where the soup kitchen socialism of Hugo Chavez offered up to the masses via price controls on food and energy in return for their support results only in the inevitable shortages of those very goods and services by which Chavez was leveraging.