Maduro announced an increase to the minimum monthly salary today, raising it to Bs. 97,531. Maduro also decreed an increase to the cestaticket subsidy, which is a monthly stipend that workers receive in order to purchase food, which now totals Bs. 153,000. The change is effective retroactively to July 1.
When added together, a Venezuelan worker earning minimum wage will make Bs. 250,531 between her salary and her cestaticket stipend.
While the earned salary can be used to purchase anything for sale on the market, the cestaticket food stipend can only be used to purchase food products.
Today’s salary increase represents a jump of 50% from the rate that was set on May 1 of this year. It also marks the third time in 2017 that Maduro has announced an increase to the minimum monthly salary.
While marking the announcement, Maduro took time to talk about the upcoming Constituent Assembly, a process that regime critics argue will allow Maduro to write a custom-made constitution to cement his dictatorial rule over Venezuela.
Maduro told listeners that if the Constituent Assembly was carried out successfully, he would somehow be able to fix the economic crisis in the country, which arguably manifests itself most clearly in out-of-control prices for food and basic necessities.
If you give me the Constituent [Assembly], I will give you all a victory over prices. Give me the [Constituent] Assembly and you’ll see.
Students Arrested in El Rosal Granted Unconditional Release
25 university students arrested during an anti-government protest in the Caracas neighbourhood of El Rosal on Thursday have all been granted unconditional release by a judge, ending an ordeal that caused outraged around the country.
The students–who formed part of a larger group of 31 detainees, the rest of whom have also been released–were crammed into a white unmarked van by National Bolivarian Police officers after their arrest on Thursday, drawing widespread condemnation from Venezuelans for their inhumane treatment.
The 25 students waited three hours today at a Caracas courthouse before a judge ordered their release.
The case appears to be one of arbitrary mass arrests, as a student leader who was participating in the protest on Thursday said that they were marching down a street when they were suddenly attacked by security forces, who subsequently made the arrests.
Military Tribunal Accuses MUD Organizer of Treason
A military tribunal has formally charged Roberto Picon Herrera, a political organizer who helps run the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica‘s (MUD), with “treason against the fatherland”. New of the charges came from National Assembly deputy Julio Borges, who called the proceedings against Picon “unconstitutional” and his detention arbitrary.
Picon was arrested on June 23 during a raid on a MUD home used for meetings in Caracas. The security forces that carried out the raid did not have a warrant either to enter the home nor to arrest Picon.
The Maduro regime has increasingly turned to using military tribunals to process dissidents, a move that is against Venezuela law. According to the Article 261 of the Constitution, military tribunals can only be used to deal strictly with military matters.
The regime’s reliance on military tribunals has become more commonplace since attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, who oversees legal prosecutions in the country, broke away from the ruling PSUV party in March of this year.
Residential Building in Caracas Unfurls Seven-Star Flag
An apartment building in the neighbourhood of El Paraiso in Caracas unfurled a seven-starred Venezuelan flag today on its side, bringing to the spotlight an old debate surrounding the country’s flag.
Below, an image of the seven-starred flag on the building:
From 1863 until 2006, the Venezuelan flag had seven stars arranged in different combinations, with the current pattern being adopted in 1930. The seven starts represented the seven provinces of the Captaincy General of Venezuela that declared independence from Spain in 1810.
In 2006, the government of president Hugo Chavez added an eighth start to the flag to comply with an unfulfilled wish by Simon Bolivar to include the eighth symbol–representing the province of Guayana–to the flag.
The addition of the eighth star became a sore point for critics of the Chavez government, as it signaled a fundamental change in the country’s national identity.
The displaying of the seven-starred flag is therefore a political statement, since it is a symbol of the pre-Chavez era in Venezuela.
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