The Americas

Protests as Venezuela starts 2-day workweek to save power

  • In this Saturday, April 23, 2016 photo, residents are silhouetted against the facade of a church, the only building illuminated after a 24-hour blackout, in the El Calvario neighborhood of El Hatillo, just outside of Caracas, Venezuela. Energy rationing has been added to the hardships faced by Venezuelans overwhelmed by inflation, shortages of food and medicine and rising crime. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    In this Saturday, April 23, 2016 photo, residents are silhouetted against the facade of a church, the only building illuminated after a 24-hour blackout, in the El Calvario neighborhood of El Hatillo, just outside of Caracas, Venezuela. Energy rationing has been added to the hardships faced by Venezuelans overwhelmed by inflation, shortages of food and medicine and rising crime. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman holding her ID card waits in line to sign a petition that aims to initiate a recall referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Maduro's approval rating has plummeted amid spiraling triple-digit inflation, a deep recession and widespread shortages. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    A woman holding her ID card waits in line to sign a petition that aims to initiate a recall referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Maduro's approval rating has plummeted amid spiraling triple-digit inflation, a deep recession and widespread shortages. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

  • People line up to sign a petition, organized by the opposition, to initiate a recall referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Maduro's approval rating has plummeted amid spiraling triple-digit inflation, a deep recession and widespread shortages. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    People line up to sign a petition, organized by the opposition, to initiate a recall referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Maduro's approval rating has plummeted amid spiraling triple-digit inflation, a deep recession and widespread shortages. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

Reports of looting and fiery protests are circulating in Venezuela as government offices close their doors for the rest of the week in the face of a worsening energy crisis that is causing daily blackouts.

President Nicolas Maduro announced late Tuesday that the socialist country would be slashing the work week for public employees to save power. Millions of officials will work only Monday and Tuesday for at least two weeks.

Local media reported widespread protests in towns around the country following the announcements, with fiery barricades and people looting bread and other scarce food.

The administration says the water level behind the nation's largest dam has fallen to near its minimum operating level thanks to a severe drought. Experts say lack of planning and maintenance is also to blame.