Latin Lefty Meltdown
Venezuela Hunkers Down for 40 Days of Blackouts

Venezuela is no stranger to shortages, having recently struggled with a wide variety of scarcities—from toilet paper to food to medicine—but the South American country is now having to contend with scheduled daily power outages. Deutsche Welle reports:

Officials imposed a four-hour blackout in eight states on Monday local time. Except for the capital Caracas and the city of Vargas, the measures would last for 40 days, AFP news agency reported.President Nicolas Maduro’s latest move was a last-minute attempt to save energy until water levels stabilized at the Guri Dam, which provides for most of Venezuela’s energy. […]

“We’re performing miracles to maintain the quality of life, but I ask for miracles that you compatriots perform at home,” Maduro said in a televised address last week. He also urged women to stop blow drying their hair and stop ironing their clothes to save electricity.

Venezuela’s sputtering economy was already locked in a death spiral, but the country’s mismanagement and fiscal woes are being compounded by Mother Nature’s cruelty: a drought has depleted the Guri Dam’s reservoir to historically low levels as El Niño has delayed the start of the country’s rainy season. But as DW notes, this latest energy crisis can’t just be put down to arid conditions:

Critics, however, say that the current problem is a result of mismanagement and inefficient running of Venezuela’s power network. They say more investment in power plants and increasing power bills could have averted the crisis. Generous state subsidies for the power sector have kept electricity bills low and citizens typically pay US$1 (0.88 euros) a month for power.

And so the Maduro administration is now asking the Venezuelan people to accept these new restrictions as a necessary sacrifice, with yesterday’s 4 hour power cut just the first of a 40 day stretch of blackouts. Lent came late to Venezuela this year, and it looks like the country will be giving up consistent access to power.

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