Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuelan satirical site pokes fun at power shortages

A meme shows Godzilla tearing through power lines Image copyright
Image caption Venezuelans made fun of what they see as the government's tendency to look for scapegoats. The meme reads: "Government discovers who is to blame for the power cuts."

The announcement on Tuesday that Venezuela would further extend power cuts and introduce a two-day working week for public sector workers amid a deepening energy crisis has triggered memes and satirical articles.

The mainstream media reported the news in a very sober manner, carrying the words of Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz and pictures of an almost dry Guri dam, the country's main source of hydroelectric power.

Image copyright Venezuelan Vice-President's Office
Image caption The vice-president's office released pictures of members of the cabinet inspecting the Guri dam

Mr Isturiz announced that civil servants would work only on Mondays and Tuesdays until the energy crisis was over and that schools would remain closed on Fridays.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the weather phenomenon El Nino was to blame for the drought which has driven water levels in the Guri dam down and led to power shortages.

But critics of the government say the situation has been made worse by years of mismanagement, a failure to diversify energy sources and a lack of investment.

Many Venezuelans blame the the president for the ever more frequent power cuts and have taken to Twitter to express their anger under the hashtag #MaduroEsOscuridad (#MaduroIsDarkness).

Some re-tweeted a post by opposition politician Henrique Capriles showing a blackened map of Venezuela with the message: "Let's revoke the darkness".

Image copyright Twitter

But it was satirical website El Chiguire Bipolar (The Bipolar Capybara) which mined the power cuts for all of their comedic potential.

Not only does it run an article about how the power cuts have led Venezuelans to develop night vision:

Image copyright El Chiguire Bipolar
Image caption The article describes how scientists have been surprised by Venezuelans who have developed night vision to adapt to the power cuts

It also outlines a mock schedule supposedly designed by Venezuela's energy supplier suggesting how people should change their daily routines to cope with the lack of power:

Image copyright El Chiguire Bipolar

It includes such suggestions as sleeping in and "dreaming of the Eternal Commander" in a reference to the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and taking cold showers as that is what Simon Bolivar, the man who liberated Venezuela from Spanish rule, would have done.

And it pointed out that the power cuts offered Venezuelans a rare respite from TV broadcasts by President Maduro:

Image copyright El Chiguire Bipolar
Image caption Satirical blog El Chiguire Bipolar joked that the power cuts "guarantee four hours a day without Maduro broadcasts on TV"

The satirical website already had a field day mocking the suggestion made by President Maduro a couple of weeks ago that Venezuelans stop using hair dryers in order to save electricity.

At the time, it published a photoshopped image of the former Vice-President Elias Jaua sporting what the site said was his new "natural hairstyle", which the article said he had decided to sport to fall in line with Mr Maduro's instructions.

Image copyright El Chiguire Bipolar

The site, which is run from a US-based service provider, also praises the unforeseen "positives" of the scheduled power cuts, saying they will offer Venezuelans "a respite from seeing President Maduro on TV".

The president, much like his predecessor in office, Hugo Chavez, is fond of lengthy speeches and has his own TV show.

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