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Maduro extends Easter break for Venezuela's public workers

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — President Nicolas Maduro gave Venezuelan public sector workers three extra days off during Holy Week, as the Organization of American States on Monday voiced "grave concern" over the erosion of "democratic order" in the country.

The country's 2.8 million government workers already take the Thursday and Friday before Easter off from work, so the bonus days mean they will have the entire Holy Week free -- even as Venezuela remains embroiled in deep political crisis.

"I have approved the granting of holidays for all public sector workers on Monday the 10th, Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th during Holy Week, so that can spend time with their families," Venezuela's socialist president declared in remarks broadcast nationally on television and radio.

Meanwhile, Maduro on Monday angrily rejected an OAS resolution about his country late Monday affirming "that the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are a basic prerequisite for the existence of a democratic society."

The measure also called for "the strengthening and preservation of the democratic institutional system in member states" and voiced support for measures "to return to democratic order through the effective exercise of democracy and rule of law within the Venezuelan constitutional framework."

Maduro denounced the resolution, which was approved by consensus, as "insulting (and) abusive," saying the OAS was tantamount to an "inquisition."

Venezuela has been mired in turmoil since the Supreme Court last week tried to tighten Maduro's grip on power by assuming legislative powers from the National Assembly -- a move opponents had angrily branded as a "coup d'etat."

The crisis hit country has endured months of political and economic crisis, largely brought on by plummeting global oil prices.

The South American nation, which boasts the world's biggest oil reserves, has seen revenues nosedive, and as a result has suffered shortages of food, medicine and basic goods, along with soaring violent crime and an inflation rate the IMF expects will reach 1,600 percent by year's end.