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Venezuela: Socialism At It’s Finest

Power will go out for four hours per day for 40 days

Police officers control traffic during a partial blackout in Caracas Photo: REUTERS

Venezuela: Socialism At It’s Finest

Government officials announced last week that they would begin rolling blackouts for 40 days in cities across Venezuela.

Additionally, the government is asking large users, such as shopping malls and hotels, to generate their own electricity for nine hours a day.

The move is supposed to help save power at a time when water levels at the country’s main electric dam are at record lows.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government blames the power shortage on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has caused the country’s hydroelectric dams to run low.

Critics, however, say it is the result of economic mismanagement and inefficient running of the energy network.

Power will go out for four hours per day for 40 days. The country’s electricity minister, Luis Motta Dominguez, said the blackouts could continue beyond 40 days if water levels at the El Guri dam, which provides about 75% of the country’s electricity, keep falling to record lows.

This announcement comes on the heels of Maduro’s decree that there be two months of three-day weekends in another attempt to curb energy use. This was met with high criticism, even from his supporters.

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.

Another measure that the Socialist government is implementing is the reversal of a half-hour time change that was one of the signature measures of former president Hugo Chavez’s 14-year rule.

Chavez turned Venezuela’s clocks back 30 minutes in 2007 so that children could wake up for school in daylight.

But his successor Nicolas Maduro has decided to return to the previous system, four hours behind GMT, to ensure more daylight in the evening when energy consumption peaks.

It’s quite an irony for Venezuelans to be facing these severe measures. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. However, it uses its oil to export to other countries, not to keep the lights on at home.

For Venezuelans, the blackouts add to a litany of other daily burdens. The government can’t pay for basic imports like sugar, flour and eggs. Many Venezuelans wait several hours in lines outside supermarkets, hoping shelves won’t be emptied out by the time they arrive.

Medical supplies are hard to find too. That’s especially concerning since the Zika virus began spreading in Venezuela and other Latin American countries in January.

El Guri Dam


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