Maduro gave a speech today outside of the Miraflores Palace in Caracas in which he addressed the looming recall referendum vote against him, and urged his supporters to remain steadfast by his side in the coming months. Maduro argued that the referendum was not against him personally, but rather that it was against history, Chavez and Venezuela.

Maduro also said that United States and the opposition were working to overthrow his government, and told supporters:

If you want to live in peace, you must prepare for war.

Without providing any kind of evidence, Maduro said that a planned march to the Plaza O’Leary in Caracas had to be cancelled because of an apparent assassination attempt was going to be made against him. Maduro said that “several dozens” had been detained in the alleged assassination conspiracy, and continued by saying:

There are plans to end my life. I dream of living to be a hundred years old (…) There are plans to cause disorder and violence.

Maduro also said that he was “the most attacked person in history”, but that he was proud to be the primary target of “the North American Empire’s” wrath.

In a bizarre turn, Maduro ordered his supporters to rebel and go into hunger  strikes if an opposition candidate were ever elected President of Venezuela: (MAY 2 EDIT: I mistakenly read Maduro’s words as “hunger strike” instead of the correct “general strike”. I apologize for this error). 

If the oligarchy ever did something to me and managed to get into this [Miraflores] Palace by one way or another, I order you to declare yourselves in rebellion and to declare an indefinite hunger strikes.

Below, pictures of Maduro’s speech from Miraflores earlier today:

One of the signs at the PSUV rally (left) shows a caricature of Maduro brutalizing National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup:

Maduro Raises Minimum Salary for 12th Time

Yesterday, Maduro announced an increase to the minimum monthly salary effective today in honour of International Worker’s Day. The minimum monthly salary is now Bs. 15,051.

At the same time, Maduro announced increased to financial benefits for individuals receiving assistance via the cestaticket [akin to food stamps], which now sits at Bs. 18,585 per month.

During the announcement, Maduro pointed out that this is the 12th time since he was elected President in 2013 that he has increased the minimum monthly salary, and the 32nd time since 1999.

However, the fact that Venezuela has the highest inflation numbers makes the salary increases little more than token gestures. According to official figures, the country’s inflation rate was 180% last year, and it is projected to hit the 720% mark this year, essentially erasing the salary increase.

Purchasing Power Falls 40% in 2016

Venezuelans’ purchasing power has fallen 40% in 2016, according to Henkel Garcia, the head of the Econometrica economic firm. Speaking on Maduro’s salary increase announcement, Garcia:

The government thinks that by decreeing salary increases it’s going to help works. Yet, after more than 30 salary increases between President Hugo Chavez’s and Nicolas Maduro’s terms, purchasing power is below the 1998 level. This shows that the policy of increasing salaries doesn’t have any impact. Last year, the fall in yearly purchasing power was 30%, and so far this year it’s been 40%.

El Nacional points out that even making more than the minimum salary is no guarantee of prosperity.

The article points out that that hospital directors earn Bs. 18,628 per month, meaning that he or she would have to save 100% of their salary for eight months in order to buy all of the food necessary to maintain a healthy diet for just one month. Similarly, a university professor earning Bs. 36,812 per month would have to save their entire salary for four months in order to buy food for the month.

This fact puts those living with the minimum monthly salary in a tremendously precarious condition. Jesús Núñez earns the minimum salary, and he told El Nacional that his paycheques do not last him until he gets paid again, trapping him into relying on his credit cards more and more.

Núñez told El Nacional:

This past year, my salary tripled and even still it buys me less and less. I can’t remember the last time I ate out or bought new clothes. I always cook at home, and I’ve even had to reduce how much meat I eat in order to save money.

Gladys Perez, who has been a teacher for 24 years, told the newspaper:

I earn Bs. 13,000 every two weeks, and I spent basically more than 80% of it on food.

Perez is relatively lucky, since she told El Nacional that her husband also works. Still, she says that between daily expenses, housing fees, and expenses related to her child’s education, life is not easy for her family.

A 42-year-old nurse who chose to remain anonymous told El NacionaI:

I have four children: two in high school and two in university. Even though one of them works, we still don’t have enough money to buy food since everything is always getting more expensive, or we just can’t find anything. I still haven’t been paid the food stamp increase that was approved in February, because the Ministry of Health says that it doesn’t have the resources to do so.

Maduro: “I Need Love”

During a speech broadcast in cadena [meaning that every television network was mandated to show it], Maduro celebrated the fifth year of the Gram Mision Vivienda, a subsidized housing project. In his speech, Maduro asked for love from Venezuelans, and laid out a vision for what the next few years of his presidency might look like:

You know that dreams come true. Five years after [the start of the Gran Mision Vivienda] we can say this: Commander Chavez, it was worth it! Mission accomplished.

But now, the mission that we have yet to achieve is even greater, and for that we will need work, and time, and love, in order to achieve as we have achieved, and reach home [built number] 1.5 million this year. And in 2018, on December 31 of 2018, we will have a national party. We can do it that afternoon, God willing, in order to hand over home number 3 million.

We will achieve this. It can be done, Venezuela, and I need your support. And I need time. And I need love, in order to keep working for the homeland. And so it shall be.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com
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