Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro ordered on Tuesday that officials will now be working two days a week, since the country faces a severe energy crisis in addition to economic and political tensions.
“Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be non-working days in the public sector, with the exception of the fundamental and necessary tasks,” said the vice president Aristobulo Isturiz, adding that classes would also be suspended on Friday for students from kindergarten to high school.
The Vice President was speaking from the main Venezuelan hydroelectric plant, the Guri plant in Bolivar (south-east), which provides 70% of the country’s electricity and the level is abnormally low.
This measure, whose duration was not specified, adds to other recent initiatives by President Nicolas Maduro to save electricity, while the South American country is facing a triple crisis: economic, energy and politics.
Last week, the government has announced that electricity would be cut off four hours a day for 40 days in the ten most populous states (out of 24), with the exception of the Caracas capital.
He also decreed a time zone change of 30 minutes, creating new holidays and the working time to six hours a day in the ministry.
The large power consumers, including hotels, will be provided with electricity needs for only nine hours a day, prompting shopping centers to reduce their opening hours.
According to the Socialist government, Venezuela’s 18 water tanks are suffering from drought caused by El Niño weather phenomenon particularly virulent in Latin America.
But the majority of the opposition in Parliament accused the Executive of not having invested enough in the power network to meet demand.
Venezuela, which has one of the largest oil reserves on the planet, has been penalized by the drop in crude prices that brings 96% of its economy.
This crisis is reflected in shortages of basic goods (Caracas can not pay for imports), forcing Venezuelans to queue for hours at the malls and to bear the worst inflation in the world, 180% per year in 2015.
In this context, President Maduro is subjected to an increasingly pressure from the opposition who won a symbolic victory on Tuesday: the National Electoral Council (CNE) has authorized them to collect signatures to initiate the recall referendum procedure against the president.
A commissioner from the CNE “will present the form to activate the recall referendum against the president”, as demanded by the opposition coalition Table for Democratic Unity (MUD), a statement of the organization, yet deemed close to the government.
The opposition will now collect the signatures of 1% of voters (or 197,978 people) of the country to take the first step of the procedure.
Secondly, they will need to collect four million to organize the referendum procedures against Maduro, whose been in power since 2013.
The leader of the opposition group in parliament, Julio Borges, called for “a referendum this year and the election of a government with national unity to successfully get them out of this mess.”
The recall referendum can be requested once the president has made half of his term, on April 19 in the case of Nicolas Maduro.
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