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Venezuelans demand a living wage on the street while Maduro decrees emergency bonuses


Since March 2022, the minimum wage has not increased in Venezuela while inflation has increased by 500%

The Labor Day march took place in Caracas as another of the constant protests that public sector workers, retirees and pensioners have organized in recent months, who receive a salary diluted by voracious inflation.

The mobilization was more crowded, was closely monitored by security forces and was blocked by riot fences before reaching its goal, at the Prosecutor's Office headquarters.

The protesters demanded a decent and sufficient wage and denounced living on starvation wages of just over five dollars a month.

In a parallel mobilization called by the Government, Nicolás Maduro offered increases in two bonuses, the one for food and the one for the "economic war", which not all workers and pensioners receive, have no impact on social benefits and add up to 60 dollars in total.

Meanwhile, the minimum income remains at 130 bolivars, which today is equivalent to five dollars, since March 2022, when the last adjustment was made, crushed by more than 500% accumulated inflation.

A protester shouts at the police on the other side of a riot wall.Andrea Hernández Briceño

In the workers' march, technical drawing professor Miguel Martínez said he felt suffocated by survival.

He is 61 years old, retired after 30 years of service and has had to go out looking for work.

Some days he has to climb on top of buildings as an assistant to his sons in the installation of telecommunications antennas.

“We are in a depressing condition.

It's not enough for me, I can't keep up.

My children help me, but they left the country, they had to return and they are not well either.

This is something that exhausts you, that suffocates you.

They talk about the blockade and sanctions and one wonders about all the money that was lost in PDVSA”, says the teacher, also a union leader of the Venezuelan Teachers Union.

"I will leave the bones in the street in this fight,

The measures of Maduro, who has spoken in his speech of an "emergency salary" and has asked Venezuelans to resist "until they can have the financial strength" to recover the minimum income for workers, is far from the amount that comes demanding the unions that oscillates between 100 and 400 dollars as a minimum vital income, to cover a basic basket that already exceeds 500 dollars a month.

In the political act, held a few blocks from where the other demonstration aspired to arrive, the Chavista leader read a proposal delivered by Wills Rangel, president of the Central de Trabajadores Socialistas, affiliated with the government party, and one by one approved the points that include some improvements in health services, housing plans and an increase in taxes on the richest.

The union leader anticipated his support for the “worker president”, at the same time that he gave up the fight for wages as lost.

"The workers of the revolution have no illusions about the issue of a minimum wage because we believe that we have instruments and you have given us the support to go for something superior, which is to take power and do more with less," Rangel told the microphone.

Protest for Labor Day in the streets of Caracas. Andrea Hernández Briceño

In the bonus proposal, the organization proposed bringing the war bonus to $45 and the food bonus to $15.

In full speech, Maduro accepted the proposal, but quickly applied the mathematics in the proportion of remuneration, leaving the war bond, which has more beneficiaries, at 20 dollars, and the food bond, known in Venezuela as "the cestaticket", which it is mandatory for the formal sector of the economy, which is the smallest, at 40 dollars.

“It's $60 rounded up as a minimum, plus salary.

This emergency plan and income resistance should lead us sooner rather than later to the recovery of wages in the collective agreements.

Have the security and confidence that we will reach the full recovery of the salary, but now we have to resist and resist with force ”,

warned Maduro.

The actual calculations imply an increase of just over $10 over what they already receive and, in the case of some civil service retirees, even a reduction, due to the change in the proportion of the allowances.

The president added that these two bonuses will be indexed monthly to the value of the exchange rate of the Central Bank of Venezuela, "so that it does not deteriorate."

It is not clear how this will happen without having an impact on the increase in inflation due to the increase in the exchange rate.

In previous years, the government has said that the minimum wage is anchored to the price of the so-called petro cryptocurrency, whose reference value is the price of a barrel of oil, without this being reflected in what workers receive.

A year ago, a single bonus was also offered that was then equivalent to $2,200 for 120,000 public sector retirees who retired with precarious wages.

So far it has not been paid and today's rate would be just 400 dollars.

Police and citizens struggle during the protest. Andrea Hernández Briceño

After a timid recovery and the forecasts for an improvement in the economy last year, Venezuela is once again approaching a hyperinflationary scenario.

The contraction of the economy during the first quarter and the drop in consumption have been reported by several economic firms.

The pressure for the increase in the minimum wage has been maintained for months and it was expected that this Monday the Government would finally make the adjustment.

Chavismo has been cutting labor gains for years, leaving aside the benefits of collective bargaining and equalizing salary tables in the public sector that employs some two million people.

The Government has defended itself by alleging the lack of income due to the blockade of the United States, although it has also reported increases in the collection of taxes on which all fees have increased considerably, added to the new tax decreed a year ago that is levied with 3% any transaction made in dollars in an economy in which the bolivars are worthless.

This same year, the authorities have denounced the loss of more than 3,000 million dollars in corruption schemes around the sale of oil in recent years that have left more than 80 detainees related to the state PDVSA.

The country looked for intermediaries to sell the crude at discounts amid the sanctions and in the end they did not pay.

On this, once again Chavismo begins to paint a new political conspiracy.

This week, the Maduro-affiliated prosecutor, Tarek Willian Saab, said that the disclosed operations sought to "generate the implosion of the Venezuelan economy to seek an unfavorable balance for the Venezuelan State."

But in the workers' march they had another thesis.

One of the slogans most chanted and painted on banners was: "This is not a blockade, this is looting."

A retired protester holds up his sign in front of a riot truck. Andrea Hernández Briceño

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-05-02

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