Maduro announced a series of measures yesterday to combat the ongoing electricity crisis, the severity of which threatens to plunge the country into darkness. The Guri hydro electrical plant, which supplies 63% of Venezuela’s electricity, is possibly days away from a complete shutdown due to low water levels at the dam that feeds its turbines.
One of the measures, which will come into effect immediately, is the declaration of three-day weekends for all of April and May. Maduro said that for the next two months, Fridays would be “holidays”, the goal of the measure being to force workers to stay home and conserve the electrical energy required by offices throughout the country.
We’re going to have long weekends where we have to increase the public input of the national public administration, the state public administration — governors — the municipal public administration — mayors, and all of the public sector workers that don’t affect productive activity.
Calling the country’s electrical difficulties “the most difficult, riskiest” challenge facing the nation, Maduro said that he was confident that measures would allow Venezuela to survive the crisis.
Maduro also announced that establishments that consume more electricity, such as shopping malls, would be required to generate their own power for nine hours a day. He said that “electrical inspectors and National Bolivarian Armed Forces soldiers” would help enforce and monitor the measure.
Similarly, industrial sites throughout the country are expected to generate their own power as well, and “reduce electrical consumption by 20%”.
The measures will be in place until at least June 6 of this year.
Maduro: Use Hair Dryers “Only on Special Occasions”
Maduro also implored Venezuelans to implement other energy-saving measures into their daily lives, including:
- Set air conditioning units to 23 degrees Celsius.
- Set water heaters to 35 degrees Celsius.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical products when they are not in use.
He also targeted the use of hair dryers specifically, and suggested that Venezuelans “reduce the use of hair dryers or use them only on special occassions”. Apparently anticipating backlash over this suggestion, Maduro qualified it by saying:
I know that you can twist [this suggestion] because hair dryers are now used as a standard by women (…) use hair dryers only half the time over these next 60 days. Can you do that, women? What do you think? (…) Clothes dryers and [hair dryers] are strong, high consumers [of electricity], as are irons. We have to raise awareness about this.
Maduro concluded his request with an attempt to boost the spirits of those who frequently use the devises:
I’ve always thought that a woman looks more beautiful when she combs her hair with her fingers, and when she lets her hair dry out naturally. That’s what I think and that’s what I’m proposing to women. What do you think?
PSUV Possibly Seeking to Reduce Parliamentary Term
Constitutional lawyer Hermann Escarra announced today that Maduro has the power to reduce the current parliamentary term to 60 days by directly petitioning the country’s top court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, to do so. The move would dissolve the current opposition-controlled National Assembly, and presumably force new parliamentary elections.
Escarra said that a draft of the amendment explained:
President Nicolas Maduro could present an amendment without going through the National Assembly, and that amendment could have just one article. In fact, it’s already been drafted. It reduces the [term period] of the current members of the National Assembly to 60 days. I would only add that, in the end, this is a transitional National Assembly.
The National Assembly sits for five years. The last parliamentary elections were held four months ago, on December 6 2015.
It is not clear at this time if Maduro’s intends to go ahead with the move.
CORPOELEC Workers Stage Protest
Workers from CORPOELEC, the state-run national electrical company, staged a protest this morning in Caracas along the Francisco de Miranda Avenue in Chacao to demand that the government sign their collective agreement.
Below, an image from the scene early this morning:
Cabello: “We Won’t Let Them Take Gov’t Away from Us”
Speaking on his weekly television show Con El Mazo Dando, PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello said that the party would not allow anyone to remove it from power. Cabello said:
We’re letting the whole world know: we wont let ourselves get pushed out. We won’t let them take the government away from us. We won’t allow it.
Cabello was referring to the United States, which he claimed is “bent” on removing Maduro from office.
Cabello also stressed that the PSUV stood firmly by Maduro:
President Maduro has said that he won’t resign. The people and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela unconditionally support our partner, Nicolas Maduro. They make up things; every day, it’s a new thing. They’re trying to scare us, attack us, to divide the Bolivarian and chavista forces. It’s going to be very difficult.
PSUV, Opposition Supporters Clash Outside National Assembly
A group of PSUV supporters clashed with opposition demonstrators outside the National Assembly today. At least one woman was injured in the event. She received medical attention at the National Assembly’s medical centre.
At the head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), PSUV supporters attempted to block opposition legislators from entering the building to submit the official request that the electoral body commence the preparation for a recall referendum against Maduro.
MUD deputy Tomas Guanipa, who headed the group of opposition deputies, told reporters that as soon as the group attempted to enter the building, PSUV supporters began throwing objects at them.
The deputies were subsequently able to enter the building and file the paperwork. Guanipa said that he expects the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, to formally signal that the recall referendum process has begun sooner rather than later. Guanipa pointed out:
[Announcing the start of the recall process] isn’t her decision – it’s her duty.
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