Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro has raised his country’s minimum wage by a further 40 percent, meaning public sector employees will now earn around two dollars a month in his seventh and final major hike of 2017.
“We have good news regarding the protection and stability of all the workers,” said Maduro in a televised address. “I am announcing the rise of the national minimum wage by 40 percent for all our doctors and public sector workers.”
The move means that working Venezuelans will now receive a basic salary of 248,510 bolivares, equivalent to $2.02 a month. On top of that, they are also handed an increased food ticket worth 549,000 bolivares worth $4.46, meaning their total income amounts to around $6.48.
Over the course of 2017, Maduro instigated seven separate minimum wage hikes in order to fight back at what he describes as an “economic war” led by the United States and other Western powers against his regime. However, the hikes are only like to worsen the country’s unprecedented rates of inflation continually depleting the value of its currency, meaning that figure is only likely to fall.
According to latest figures, inflation rose by a staggering 1,369 percent between January and November last year. The figures were only released by the country’s opposition, as the Maduro regime refuses to publish them.
As part of his socialist “Bolivarian revolution,” Maduro’s late predecessor Hugo Chávez would boast of Venezuela having the highest minimum wage in Latin America, equivalent to $372 a month. However, inflation began to soar as early as 2007 and accelerated further after oil prices crashed in 2012. In recent years, Venezuelans have been seen carrying thousands of banknotes to buy the simplest of products, in scenes similar to Germany’s Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation crisis. The government has responded by introducing higher denomination bank notes, although even the maximum note of 100,000 bolivares is still worth under one dollar.
Hyperinflation is just one of many serious economic problems faced by the regime, who in November defaulted on their debts, which amount to around $200 billion, mainly owed to Russia and China. The government is also facing the pressure of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, which mainly target the country’s state-run oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela, as well as a number of government officials.
The Maduro regime is currently moving forward with plans to launch its own national cryptocurrency known as the ‘Petro,’ backed by the nation’s considerable reserves of oil, gold, and diamonds.