Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raised the country’s minimum wage by 30 percent in May 2014. This marks the second time the standard has been raised this year, which, in total, accumulates to a 43 percent increase since the end of 2013.
These measures were implemented to help citizens overcome the country’s crippling inflation. Over the past twelve months inflation has risen by 59 percent, a staggering rate that exceeds any other country in 2014.
The new minimum wage is expected to provide the equivalent of 657 U.S. dollars a month for the citizens of Venezuela.
Aside from porous economic fundamentals, mass popular unrest may have influenced the President’s willingness to take action. Violent protests have pervaded the the country for the past two months, leaving 41 Venezuelans dead. Demonstrators are demanding greater government intervention to improve the prospects of middle class families.
The escalating situation has pressured Maduro to remain proactive. The President recently issued a statement promising that he will take the necessary steps to ensure inflation is conquered within the next year.
“If another increase is needed, the working class can rest assured that I will do it,” Maduro told laborers in the nation’s capital.
Although inflation has plagued the nation’s current financial woes, economists blame past government policies for the recent recession. Hugo Chavez’s rule oversaw decades of price controls and currency manipulation, inefficiencies that have stymied growth and facilitated an unhealthy dependence on imports.
Economists are also pessimistic about Venezuela’s future. Many see the recent minimum wage adjustments as purely reactionary responses that will further accelerate inflation and exacerbate the government deficit.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Venezuelan opposition party has criticized Maduro for not doing enough. Henrique Capriles, Maduro’s opponent in the last election, maintains that the minimum wage raise should have kept pace with inflation.
Although protesters continue to call for Maduro’s resignation, the President remains steadfast in his commitment to help Venezuelans through this difficult time as he claims, “I am a worker president committed to the class that works and struggles.”
Unfortunate for his re-election prospects, many citizens remain unconvinced.
— Sam Preston