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Every Friday Is Now a Holiday In Venezuela, Thanks to the Energy Crisis

The South American nation depends on hydropower for 60 percent of its electricity. The network has been hit by a severe drought, as well as the chronic lack of investment and maintenance of infrastructure within a major economic crisis.

by Reuters News Agency
Apr 7 2016, 7:30pm

Foto di Handout via Reuters Pictures

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro has decreed that all Fridays for the next two months will be holidays, in a bid to save energy in the blackout-hit OPEC country.

"We'll have long weekends," Maduro said in an hours-long appearance on state television on Wednesday night, announcing the measure as part of a 60-day plan to fight a power crunch.

A severe drought, coupled with what critics say is a lack of investment and maintenance in energy infrastructure, has hit the South American nation, which depends on hydropower for 60 percent of its electricity.

Venezuela's opposition slammed the new four-day work week as reckless in the face of a bitter recession, shortages of foods and medicines, and triple-digit inflation.

The measure comes on the heels of Maduro decreeing a week-long break over Easter, ordering some shopping malls to generate their own power, and shortening daily working hours.

"For Maduro the best way to resolve this crisis is to reduce the country's productivity," said Caracas city councillor Jesús Armas. He described the free Fridays as pan y circo, a Spanish phrase meaning distracting entertainment for the masses.

Related: Venezuela Declares an Economic Emergency and Releases Data Showing How Bad It Is

Some Venezuelans took to social media to express their surprise. "You must be kidding???," one Twitter user said. Many others wondered how the measure would impact schools, bureaucratic procedures and supermarkets.

It was not immediately clear how the non-working Fridays would affect the public and private sector.

The 60-day plan's fine print will be announced on Thursday, said Maduro during the television program, which included music, dancing and giant pictures of late leader Hugo Chávez.

"I think we can overcome this situation without increasing fares or rationing," added Maduro.

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jesús armas