Venezuela Boosts Minimum Wage by 43% to Quell Growing Protests

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela raised its monthly minimum wage by the equivalent of more than 40% as protests by disgruntled public workers grow ahead of presidential elections this year.

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President Nicolás Maduro said Monday that workers will get a monthly supplement of $60 as well $40 in food stamps on top of the base salary of less than $4. That compares to bonuses equivalent to about $70 before today’s announcement.

Venezuela conquered hyperinflation in recent years by adopting the US dollar, so the move represents a large increase in real terms.

“We will open spaces for the full recovery of the working class income, from labor benefits to social welfare,” Maduro said in a speech to congress.

Maduro is expected to seek a third term in elections this year, though he is lagging far behind opposition leader María Corina Machado in polls. He has also sought to stoke nationalist fervor ahead of the vote, including by reviving a long-dormant border dispute with Guyana.

Read More: Teachers Are Going Hungry on $20 Monthly Salaries in Venezuela

Teachers and other public workers have recently been protesting for higher wages in Caracas and across the country. Before Maduro’s announcement, Teacher’s Federation President Carmen Márquez said that her members’ pay would need to increase about 25-fold to more than $550 a month to allow them to afford basic goods.

The economy grew more than 5% last year, Maduro said earlier, which would be among the fastest expansions in the region. Output has revived since the US eased economic sanctions in return for pledges of fairer elections.

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