CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a 40 percent increase to the minimum wage as of January.
In his televised year-end address, leftist Maduro said the new wage level would protect workers against what he calls Washington’s “economic war” to sabotage socialism.
“Good news!” said the former bus driver and union leader, speaking next to a Venezuelan flag in midday address.
Venezuelans will now earn some 797,510 bolivars a month, factoring in food tickets, or just over $7 on the widely used black market index. Millions will still be unable to afford three meals a day, while the increase is likely to stoke inflation further.
Prices went up 1,369 percent between January and November, according to figures released earlier this month by the opposition-led Congress, which estimated the 2017 rate would top 2,000 percent. The Venezuelan government no longer publishes inflation data on a regular basis.
The South American country is suffering from an economic crisis in which shortages of food and medicine are common.
Earlier this year, the United States imposed sanctions on President Maduro, labeling him “a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people”.
The year has been marred by widespread protests and violence in Venezuela, culminating in the creation of a constituent assembly of Mr. Maduro’s supporters. It was set up to rewrite the nation’s constitution, but quickly assumed many powers of the opposition-led parliament.