Professors at the Universidad Central de Venezuela en Caracas staged a one day protest today and agreed to hold a march in the next few days to protest salaries and working conditions.
The head of the Asociacion de Profesores de la UCV [UCV Professor’s Association], Victor Marquez, summed up the issue of salaries in the following way:
We hold a Guinness [World Record]. This is the only country in the world where a university professor earns less than the minimum wage.
As of May 1, university professors earn less than the minimum wage of Bs. 7,309.23 per month. This means that at the black current market rate (Bs. 287 per $U.S.), university professors in Venezuela earn less than $25 per month.
Marquez also pointed out that due to a lack of funding from the government, professors often have no choice but to dig into their own “dwindling pockets” to pay for supplies for their classrooms.
The university’s rector, Cecilia Garcia Arocha, called on the school’s faculty to unite against the government’s neglect:
More than authorities, we are teachers. The deficit does not allow for our university’s development. We’re not afraid. We’ll take to the streets to defend our university.
Health Minister: SIAMED Guarantees “Punctual” Medicine
Minister of Health Henry Ventura said today that 9,000 people had signed up with SIAMED, the government’s new medical distribution system, and said that the system “guarantees patients [receive] medicine in a punctual manner”.
The system works by having citizens register at their nearest pharmacy. If they require medicine, the pharmacy will request it, and a text message will alert the citizen when the medicine is delivered to the pharmacy. The government has also promised that by subscribing to the service, patients requiring long-term prescriptions will be guaranteed to receive their required medicine.
Ventura’s comments contradict assertions made yesterday by the head of the Federacion Medica de Venezuela, Douglas Natera. Natera said that the system did not make logical sense, since the problem is not that people are not receiving medicine punctually; it’s that there’s a critical shortage of medicine in the country.
Confusion Over Elections Continues
On April 15, the Consejo Nacional Electoral – the country’s electoral body – said that a concrete schedule for this year’s parliamentary elections would be ready “in two weeks”. Nearly three weeks later, no announcement has yet been made.
While the elections are expected to take place some time in either November or December, Maduro hinted today that they could take place much sooner. Speaking at an event at the Teresa Carreño theatre in Caracas, Maduro said:
Listen here, friends: it’s really important that we start the campaign process now. We can’t be taken by surprise by the CNE when it makes its announcement. We have to be ready. If they surprise us, if they say the elections are in July, we have to hit the ground running!
At the same event, Diosdado Cabello called for complete and unconditional loyalty from PSUV primary hopefuls:
There can’t be any guabineos [roughly, “indecisiveness”] of any kind, friends. There can’t be any kind of doubt. This is the revolution, socialism, chavismo. There is no other option. I want to ask you now – because we’re going to ask the candidates later – that we can’t have even one little faction; A, B, C, D. The only faction we must have is the Commander Chavez faction, the Bolivarian revolution faction, the faction that builds socialism, the faction of chavismo. This is the only group that should exist in Venezuela.