Venezuela Power cuts force Two days work, and five day holiday. Fridges off
Public Sector Will Work Only Two Days a Week in Venezuela
President Nicolás Maduro says new measure will last for ‘a couple of weeks’ to save power
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro pleaded for support from citizens as the government imposed three days’ leave per week for the public sector in a bid to save electricity. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
CARACAS—Venezuelan bureaucrats will work two days a week to save electricity in the country facing a deepening energy crisis.
Public employees, who account for more than a third of Venezuela’s formal labor force, will have Wednesday and Thursday off, adding to an earlier decree which made Fridays a holiday, President Nicolás Maduro said on state television. Primary schools will also shut Fridays to save power.
“This is a necessary measure while we pass the critical weeks,” Mr. Maduro said. “I’m asking the citizens for all their support.”
The new measure “will last at least for a couple of weeks,” the president said. The free Fridays will be in place until June, according to a decree published earlier this month.
The government has resorted to dramatic power-saving measures this year as the largest dam, El Guri, nears shutdown because of a year-long drought. On Monday, water levels at El Guri, which provides 65% of the country’s power, stood 67 inches above the level at which some of the turbines have to be turned off.
Mr. Maduro said he would seek help from the United Nations and other international organizations to carry out technical studies to solve the energy crisis.
Enjoying the new time off may be difficult in the country, where power is cut off for at least four hours a day outside of the capital. The hours of rationing change every day without notice, causing chaos in Venezuelan towns and cities. The blackouts leave restaurants unable to preserve food, shops unable to operate tills and gasoline stations unable to pump.
Power rationing spilled into protests on Tuesday night in Venezuela’s second largest city of Maracaibo, where residents of darkened shantytowns looted bakeries and blocked streets with burning tires in protest against shortages of basic services.
Fewer working hours and power rationing have coincided with the government’s drive to increase productivity to help the nation pull out of the deepest economic depression in its history. In the past four months, Mr. Maduro has created a Vice Presidency of Productive Economy, a Ministry of Strategic Industries and 15 “productive motors” ranging from fishing to mining.
“This is a productive revolution that is going to focus on producing what revolutions produce best,” Mr. Maduro said in February, after unveiling a plan to alleviate chronic food shortages with residential garden plots.