Foreign Policy Blogs

Energy Crisis Leads to Extended Semana Santa Vacation

This coming Monday Venezuelans will enjoy an entire week off to celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week) instead of the normal Thursday-Friday break. One might think that in a country where more than 90% of the population is Catholic this would be cause for greater attendance at church. In reality, it will likely mean longer vacations as Venezuelans typically head to the beach for the extended weekend.

Why this change in Semana Santa? President Hugo Chávez declared that Monday through Wednesday would be national holidays in order to save energy. This all goes back to the Guri dam, which provides more than two-thirds of the country’s electrical power – a drought has reduced the hydroelectric plant’s power and water levels behind the dam continue to fall. Caracas and other areas of the country have suffered water and electricity outages for months.

Chávez also urged citizens to save electricity and water, but admittedly this is not a common characteristic among Venezuelans. The country boasts the highest consumption of energy per person in Latin America. Anecdotally speaking, my time in country showed a profligate use of resources, perhaps best exemplified by air conditioned storefronts with doors wide open in order to attract passers-by with a cool breeze.

Ultimately, in a country where the government is involved in all levels of society, it may take more regulation to reduce resource usage – it has fined and cut power at companies that do not sufficiently reduce their energy use.

For more information, please see the following article.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.