The Fracas in Caracas
Venezuela Takes Permanent Three-Day Weekend

The Venezuelan government, facing a deepening economic crisis, rampant hyperinflation, widespread shortages, and an escalating political crisis, has decided to give everyone in the country Fridays off. As Bloomberg reports:

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has designated every Friday in the months of April and May as a non-working holiday, a bid to save electricity as a prolonged drought pushes water levels to a critical threshold at hydro-generation plants.

The country will unveil details of a 60-day plan to conserve energy Thursday, Maduro said, adding that measures would include asking large users such as shopping malls and hotels to generate their own electricity for nine hours a day. Heavy industries operating in the country will be asked to cut consumption by 20 percent, he said.

The move is intended to alleviate a worsening electricity shortage exacerbated by an prolonged El-Nino-caused drought. Tempted to sell every drop of oil they could, Venezuelan officials chose to rely almost exclusively on large hydroelectric dams to provide the country with electricity, then to neglect their maintenance and assume everything would be fine. The dams are now at dangerously low levels, rolling blackouts are looming, and an increasingly dissatisfied population will shortly have a bit more time on their hands. Besides the already bubbling social unrest that further disruption in Venezuelans’ daily life will inflame, losing one-fifth of the workweek to save electricity will do no favors to Venezuela’s economy, which is already spiraling out of control.
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