- Hugo Chavez - Venezuela
Chavez extends Easter holiday to save power amid energy crisis
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced a week-long holiday over Easter in a novel bid to save power amid a growing energy crisis. Government and public institutions are to be closed for three extra days.
AFP - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on Wednesday a week-long holiday over Easter, shuttering government and public institutions three days longer than usual, to save power amid a growing energy crisis.
"Holy Week is coming. We've declared Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday a holiday. All of Holy Week will be a holiday," Chavez said during a televised event in Caracas.
Next week's measure extends the official Easter holiday by three days. Like most other predominantly Catholic Latin American nations, Venezuela normally takes Thursday and Good Friday off as holidays.
"The chief aim (of the measure) is not laziness, but to save power," the leftist leader added.
A severe drought has dropped water reserves at the country's massive Guri Dam hydroelectric complex on the Orinoco river close to the "emergency level," the government said. The complex supplies 70 percent of the country's power needs.
The opposition instead blames the energy crisis on lack of investment and inefficiencies in the energy sector.
The energy crisis last month prompted government-mandated power saving measures including a 10-percent cut in electricity use for individuals and 20 percent for companies, with fines imposed for any infraction.
Earlier this week, the government switched off power for 24 hours to 96 companies and stores, as punishment for exceeding their power quotas.
Authorities in January imposed rolling brownouts across Caracas that triggered such a public outcry they were discontinued after only a few days.