The nation where public workers have to take Friday off

The World
Supporters of Venezuela's President, Nicolas Maduro, during a rally in Caracas, Thursday.

Supporters of Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, during a rally in Caracas, on Thursday.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Venezuela may have some of the largest oil reserves in the world, but right now it's facing an acute energy shortage. So acute, that public workers are having to take Friday furloughs.

But that's not all, says the AP's Hannah Dreier.

“Like most Venezuelans,” she says, “I’m learning to live in the dark sometimes. My power’s been cut four times in the past month or so.”

In a story this week, the Caracas-based Dreier wrote:

"Public employees in Venezuela will take long weekends under the government's latest bid to ease a nationwide power crisis.

"President Nicolas Maduro announced late Wednesday that he would sign a decree giving state workers Fridays off for 60 days; and he urged his compatriots to increase other efforts to save power, even recommending that women use their fingers rather than hairdryers to do their hair.

"I always think a woman looks better when she just runs her fingers through her hair and lets it dry naturally," he said. "It's just an idea I have."

The presidency is blaming a drought, saying low rainfall is damaging the country’s ability to produce hydroelectric power. But critics blame years of neglect in critical infrastructure and maintenance.

Moreover, the drought is leading to food shortages. All this on top of a severe recession.

As if that wasn't enough, the government is in chaos, with the socialist president, Maduro, locked in crisis with an opposition-controlled Congress.

AP’s Dreier says what’s happening here makes the dysfunction in Washington look like a cocktail party.

Maduro has talked about a new revolution if he does not get what he wants. But Dreier thinks this is just part of the normal discourse in Venezuela.