Venezuela's Five-Day Weekend Comes Amid An Energy Crisis

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Everybody's working for the weekend in most parts of the world.

But millions of Venezuelans will soon find themselves waiting for the workday, as the country copes with low oil prices and an ongoing drought that's causing an electricity crisis, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Public officials will only be allowed to work on Mondays and Tuesdays now that the government has introduced blackouts to conserve power, President Nicolás Maduro announced Tuesday.

The move affects about two million civil servants, said Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz, according to BBC News.

venezuela power
A woman holds a candle at her darkened residence in the state of Barinas, 600 km west of Caracas on April 25, 2016. (Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

It's just the latest in a series of measures that Venezuela has taken to preserve power. Maduro previously had civil workers take Fridays off in April and May, and shopping outlets have been told to reduce their operating hours.

The country even changed its time zone in an attempt to save energy.

But Caracas, the national capital, isn't affected by blackout orders — an arrangement that's drawing comparisons to "The Hunger Games" book series about poorer districts being starved of resources to help richer areas.

venezuela guri dam
Electricity Minister Luis Motta looks at previously submerged land during an inspection at the Guri Dam in Bolivar state, Venezuela April 11, 2016. (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Water levels in the Guri dam — Venezuela's main hydroelectric facility — have dropped to critical levels during the drought. President Maduro has blamed the El Nino weather phenomenon for the crisis, and said things will only be fixed when the rain returns.

National economy plagued

The power shortage isn't the only factor troubling Venezuela's economy — plummeting oil prices are also causing problems.

The country has had to ask China, Russia, and OPEC countries for financial supports as it grapples with inflation of up to 720 per cent, according to CNN.

The country is urging non-OPEC oil producers to attend a June meeting of the organization in Vienna in June to discuss capping oil production, which would hopefully raise prices, after a similar meeting in Doha failed to produce a deal, Reuters reported Tuesday.

For now, it appears the odds are not in Venezuela's favour.

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