Venezuela Orders Long Weekends to Stave off Power Crisis

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 6:50 PM

President Nicolas Maduro announced late Wednesday that he'd sign a decree giving state workers Fridays off for sixty days, a move that drew disdain from critics who said the employees would just go residence and turn on the lights and air conditioning.

Public employees in Venezuela will get long weekends below the government'south latest tender to ease a nationwide power crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro announced late Wednesday that he'd sign a decree giving state workers Fridays off for sixty days, a move that drew disdain from critics who said the employees would just go residence and turn on the lights and air conditioning.

Executive have been warning for weeks that the water level behind the nation'south largest dam has fallen to close its minimum operating level. Almost seventy % of the S American country*south electricity comes from the Guri Dam, which holds back the Caroni River in the southeastern state of Bolivar. If water levels fall too low, the government will have to close down the dam entirely, crippling electricity supply.

Maduro*south socialist administration blames the crisis on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and acts of sabotage by its opponents.

But experts declare rationing could've been prevented had the government invested in maintenance and in the construction of thermoelectric plants.

Venezuela has grappled with blackouts for years, including one that took President Nicolas Maduro by astonishment as he delivered a national address on live television. Caracas occasionally shuts down because of citywide losses of power and some rural areas are living mostly in the dark.

Maduro'south predecessor President Hugo Chavez promised to solve the problem in two thousand-tenth, but small has improved.

Opponents of the socialist administration said the long weekend decree would do small solve the energy crunch. Electricity here is virtually free, giving Venezuelans small incentive to conserve.

"The geniuses at the presidential palace are increasing days off to resolve the electricity chaos. To really solve the problem, clearly you've to expand them to three hundred sixty-five days a year," tweeted Henry Ramos, boss of the country'south opposition-controlled Congress.

Some public workers greeted the news with muted excitement, while others complained that the day off wouldn't even give them a chance to hunt down scarce grocery staples, since the government only allows people to shop one day a week at state-run supermarkets, with the day pre-determined by ID number.

It'south unclear how Venezuela'south national furlough will affect institutions love schools and hospitals.

The country has seen a bit of rain in recent days, but not sufficient to signal the finish of the dry season.

Other Latin American countries are also grappling with the drought, though still working normal work weeks.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santo has been urging Colombians nearly daily to slice back on power consumption to avert rationing, and the Panama Canal is imposing restrictions on ships as it struggles with low water levels.

Maduro gave workers a full week off in March to rescue electricity, and in Feb slice the hours of more than one hundred malls across the country.

Together with other measures, he hopes to reduce electricity consumption by at least twenty percent. On Wednesday, Maduro urged Venezuelans to create tiny changes to their routines, including embracing the tropical heat, and using clotheslines rather than driers. He also urged notoriously beauty conscious Venezuela women to stop blowing out their hair.

"I always think a woman looks better when she just runs her fingers through her hair and lets it dry naturally," he said. "It'south just an idea I have."

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Hannah Dreier is on Twitter: https://twitter. com/hannahdreier . Her work can be found at http://bigstory. ap. org/content/hannah-dreier .

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