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Electricity Crisis Hits Venezuela as President Faces the Prospect of Ouster

Venezuela is facing a severe electricity crisis even as the opposition parties are demanding a referendum to oust President Nicolas Maduro, who recently declared an economic emergency after promising to drive the country out of recession.
The electricity shortage, blamed primarily on depleting water level in major reservoirs across the country, has left businesses and hospitals in limbo. “Shops have long queues outside, with basic goods in short supply, and power cuts are now a daily event across the country,” reports the BBC.
Venezuela found itself surrounded by troubles when the global oil prices started decreasing. Now the situation has worsened. Last week, the government deployed the military on the streets of Maracaibo to deal with people protesting over economic hardship. Shortly afterwards, the country’s largest beer producer, Empresas Polar, was forced to shut down production due to a lack of supplies.
To save electricity, the government has told public sector workers to come in for only two days a week. The country has even put forward its clocks by a half-hour to ensure that more of the working day takes place in daylight.
The Venezuelan bolivar has lost 98% of its value versus the U.S. dollar since 2013, with inflation expected to reach 1,000% this year.
The socialist country distributes food grains through government shops. But people are standing in lines for hours at grocery stores, most of which have run short of goods. A study by Caracas-based polling firm Dataanalisis suggests that Venezuelans spend on average five hours per trip buying groceries and visit up to four different stores to find products.
Meanwhile, many people have petitioned the country’s electoral commission to hold a referendum on whether to remove the president from office. Its authors claim nearly two million people have signed up. If this is accepted, then a second petition will be launched and, according to the constitution, if this second one has 20% of the population on board, a referendum must be held.

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Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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