Facing a massive electricity crisis, Venezuela’s embattled President has a novel idea: let’s all just take a holiday. Bloomberg reports:
President Nicolas Maduro gave everyone an extra three days off work next week, extending the two-day Easter holiday, according to a statement in the Official Gazette published late Tuesday. Maduro had originally said over the weekend that the extended holiday would only apply to state employees.
The government has rationed electricity and water supplies across the country for months and urged citizens to avoid waste as Venezuela endures a prolonged drought that has slashed output at hydroelectric dams. The ruling socialists have blamed the shortage on the El Nino weather phenomena and “sabotage” by their political foes, while critics cite a lack of maintenance and poor planning.
So Maduro has been reduced to the level of a shaman, going on national TV to pray for rain: “We’re hoping, God willing, rains will come,” was a major part of his message to his people on how to deal with this. And of course, there are the ever-present enemies of the revolution, somehow operating from the shadows to disrupt his brilliant plans.
Of course, what’s got more to do with the drop in electricity than any alleged “sabotage” is the horrendous mismanagement of the country’s grid by the Bolivarian Revolution. According to Vox (Signs of a failed socialist experiment: Vox starts to notice, and runs long explainers on what’s wrong):
In the 2000s, after Hugo Chávez came into office, investment in new electric capacity in Venezuela dried up, particularly after he nationalized the grid in 2007. But demand for power kept soaring after the government froze electricity rates in 2002 and began subsidizing consumption. More and more people bought air conditioners, TVs, and so on. Today, Venezuela’s per capita rate of electricity use is one of the highest in Latin America.
Those two trends have put a severe strain on the grid. “Between 2003 and 2012,” notes the US Electricity Information Administration, “Venezuela’s electricity consumption increased by 49% while installed capacity expanded by only 28%, leaving the Venezuelan power grid stretched.” It doesn’t help that many households connect to the grid illegally, tapping into existing power lines.
Stein’s law holds that, “Trends that can’t continue, won’t.” This doesn’t look like a sustainable situation. Sadly, much the same can be said of Venezuela’s government these days.