Venezuela On The Brink: Lights Go Out On Energy Socialism
Venezuela’s socialist government ordered public workers on Tuesday to work a two-day week as an energy-saving measure in the crisis-hit South American country.
President Nicolas Maduro had already given most of Venezuela’s 2.8 million state employees Fridays off during April and May to cut down on electricity consumption.
“From tomorrow, for at least two weeks, we are going to have Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as non-working days for the public sector,” Mr Maduro said on his weekly television program.
Fridges zapped off in kitchens across Venezuela as the government turned off the electricity supply to help ease a power shortage that is worsening the country’s economic crisis.
It is the latest drastic measure by the government in a crisis that already has Venezuelans queuing for hours to buy scarce supplies in shops.
The government imposed a four-hour blackout in eight states starting Monday and said the measure will last 40 days. The states of Caracas and Vargas had also been on the list for blackouts but were spared at the last minute.
The timing of the switch-off caught Pedro Tarazona by surprise at his shop in the town of Santa Teresa del Tuy southeast of Caracas.
The fridge was full of meat when it suddenly stopped working. So did the electric fan.
The machine for processing bank card payments wouldn’t work either without power, so at least two customers left without buying anything.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government blames the power shortage on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has caused the country’s hydroelectric dams to run low.
Critics, however, say it is the result of economic mismanagement and inefficient running of the energy network.
Maduro is under growing pressure from the center-right opposition, which vowed to oust him when it took control of the legislature in January after winning a landslide election victory.
Venezuela’s economy has plunged along with the price of the oil it relies on for foreign revenues. Citizens are suffering shortages of medicines and goods such as toilet paper and cooking oil.
Maduro blames the collapse on an “economic war” by capitalists.