Maduro attempted to end 2017 on a high note by announcing a 40% increase to the minimum monthly salary effective tomorrow. A Venezuelan worker earning the minimum monthly salary will now take home Bs. 248,510. The increase also affects the monthly subsidized food allowance, which is now Bs. 549,000. When taken together, a Venezuelan worker earning the minimum monthly salary will now earn just $7.16 at the black market rate.
The announcement marks the sixth time that the regime raised the minimum monthly salary in 2017. Previous increases came in January, February, July, September, and November.
Maduro stressed that the increase was necessary in order to fight the “economic war”, which is what the regime calls an alleged worldwide conspiracy bent on destroying the Bolivarian revolution.
While regime officials and supporters brag that Venezuela is the only country on the planet that sees frequent and substantial increases to the minimum monthly salary, the fact masks a more complicated reality. Since Venezuela has the highest inflation rate on the planet–estimated to hit as high as 2,735% this year–the salary increases are simultaneously necessary and meaningless.
For example, while today’s announcement represents a 40% salary increase from the previous rate set in November, the inflation rate shot up 81% in December. In other words, at the current rate of inflation, today’s salary increase can be expected to make a meaningful impact on Venezuelan wallets for less than 14 days.
Moreover, the country’s inflation crisis is fueled in large part by constant increases to the money supply. This fact makes salary increases both a temporary solution to and the cause of the country’s inflation crisis.
Maduro: “Social Peace” One Of 2017’s Biggest Accomplishments
In an end of the year address to Venezuelans, Maduro said that among his regime’s most notable accomplishments this year was achieving “social peace” in the country, despite “all of the attacks and sabotage from the United States”.
Maduro shared his victory with supporters, saying:
I can tell you today that these victories were the fruit of perseverance, loyalty to our ideals, the national pride of a hard working and dignified people, full of faith and civility [sic] for their homeland, for their land.
2017 was arguably the most unstable for Venezuela in nearly three decades. Three months of daily anti-government protests saw hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fight against regime forces on streets across the country. At least 137 people died in the violence.
National Guard Kill Woman Waiting for Food
National Guard soldiers shot and killed a pregnant woman who was waiting to receive pork from the government in western Caracas this afternoon. The woman was part of a group of individuals who were waiting for the pork at a regime distribution point. According to the National Guard, the group “became violent” for some reason, at which point a soldier fired into the crowd.
A woman who claimed to be at the scene claims that the National Guard soldiers who fired into the crowd were drunk. Below, the woman’s testimony along with my translation:
Journalist: First and last name?
Woman: Ana Perez.
Journalist: Were you here when this happened?
Journalist: What happened?
Ana: We came over here from our homes because we’d been told that the pork was arriving. When we got here, the problem started. My husband’s cousin got shoved into the gutter by a National Guard soldier. When my husband went up to take to him, the soldier drew his rifle. I grabbed the child with one hand and with the other I pushed [the soldier] back to make sure that nothing was going to happen. Then the soldier started shooting like crazy, and we all started running. While the girl was running away, they shot her in the head.
Then they started saying, “They killed a girl! A girl got hit”, but I didn’t know who it was. It was the pregnant girl.
Journalist: The girl?
Ana: Yes. And her cousin got hit in the leg.
Journalist: That was the person who was injured?
Journalist: Is it true that the soldiers were under the influence of alcohol?
Ana: Of course! They were down there at the liquor store. I was saying, “Wow, these guards are something else. They’ll come down here [to the liquor store], but whenever there’s a problem up there they won’t go”.
Journalist: Were they drunk?
Ana: Of course! They were drunk. As soon as they showed up, [the liquor store workers] gave them beer. You’d think they owned the place!
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