Electricity goes out across much of Venezuela

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A power plant failure knocked out electricity across a big swath of Venezuela on Friday, darkening the lights at a nationally televised presidential ceremony and forcing a suspension of subway and train services around the country

The outage affected at least 14 of the South American country's 23 states and caused several hours of traffic snarls and darkened homes and offices in the capital, Caracas.

A power plant that supplies electricity to Venezuela's central and western regions failed in early afternoon, Electricity Minister Jesse Chacon said. Electricity was mostly restored in Caracas by nightfall, but remained out in other parts of the country, where power failures are more common.

The outage disrupted a televised celebration of journalists that President Nicolas Maduro was holding in the governmental palace in Caracas. The city's sidewalks filled up with pedestrians, forcing some people to walk in the streets.

While some middle class neighborhoods were without power for the afternoon and evening, Caracas' center experienced only intermittent outages.

As always, officials prioritized Caracas as they restored power. The last time Caracas lost power, in March, electricity was not fully restored for 12 hours.

The socialist country suffered major blackouts in 2012 and 2013. The administration blamed those power outages on sabotage, while opponents said they were the result of government incompetence.

The government has also occasionally pointed to wildlife, including gnawing iguanas and possums, as causes for the continuing power outages. On Friday, inconvenienced Venezuelans posted iguanas on their social media profiles in protest of the blackout.

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