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BURST OF POWER IN HAITI SEEN AS A LAST HURRAH

SHARE BURST OF POWER IN HAITI SEEN AS A LAST HURRAH

To many Haitians, the burst of electrical power that preceded the New Year was the last hurrah.

After eight hours of light, the routine blackout resumed in Port-au-Prince at 5 a.m. Friday. Residents of the capital greeted 1994 and the nation's 190th anniversary of independence on Saturday believing that the effects of a U.N. fuel embargo will only intensify and the already limited amounts of electrical power will dwindle.Many of those in Haiti's tiny elite stayed away from the traditionally lavish New Year's parties or just went through the motions.

"People are not in the mood," said Fred Pierre-Louise, whose party at the downtown Holiday Inn attracted fewer than half of the 200 who attended last year.

The U.N. embargo was intended to pressure the military to yield power to elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But the army has thwarted every attempt to force it from power since overthrowing Aristide, sending him into exile and killing hundreds of his followers in 1991.

Haiti traditionally has been more dependent on fuel for power generation during the dry winter season, when the Peligre hydro electric plant produces little energy.

Now, because of the U.N. fuel cutoff, Haiti must use its strategic reserve to power a diesel generating plant. Diplomats believe the diesel plant could deliver power for only three weeks at current rationed limits: two or three hours a day.

Much of the countryside goes without power for weeks at a time.

Embassies and relief organizations are already making plans to wind down operations and ship out staff members until the situation improves. Factories and supermarkets are trying to conserve their diesel for private generators, hoping to make it through the month, but managers said closing could begin within a week or two.