13:19 | 09/04/2016 Global Economy
Fridays in April and May will be non-working holidays in the latest attempt to curb energy use as a drought dries up reservoirs used to generate electricity.
President Nicolás Maduro announced that Fridays in April and May would be non-working holidays as part of an effort to stave off electricity rationing. Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters
Venezuela has declared two months of three-day weekends in the latest attempt to curb energy use as a months-long drought dries up reservoirs used to generate electricity.
President Nicolás Maduro announced that Fridays in April and May would be non-working holidays as part of an effort to stave off electricity rationing.
He also said the government would ask large users such as shopping malls and hotels to generate their own electricity for nine hours a day.
Heavy industries will be asked to cut consumption by 20%, Maduro said. The country’s industrial sector is already operating at 50% to 60% capacity, principally because of a lack of raw materials, according to the industry federation, Conindustria.
It was not immediately clear whether the four-day work week would apply only to public sector employees or extend to the private sector as well.
Although Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, it gets most of its energy from hydro power, deeply affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon which has caused a severe drought. The water level behind the nation’s largest hydroelectric dam has fallen close to critical levels.
On announcing the shortened workweek Maduro also called on Venezuelans to avoid turning on air conditioners and using electric clothes dryers. He also suggested women avoid blowdrying their hair or using straightening irons. “I always think a woman looks better when she just runs her fingers through her hair and lets it dry naturally,” he said.
The announced measures were met with derision among many Venezuelans, who used the hashtag #ViernesNoLaborables (Non-workingFridays) to comment.
Even supporters of the socialist government questioned the move. “I’m a Chavista but the truth is I think non-working Fridays is a very wrong measure,” wrote another user of the social network./.