CARACAS , Venezuela, April 30 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the country’s minimum wage will rise 30 percent, effective Thursday, to compensate for an inflation rate of 56.2 percent in 2013. Pensions will be raised by the same amount, he said. The move comes after nearly three months of mass protests against the government, initiated over rising prices and inflation, shortages of some basic goods, and a rising crime rate in the country.
It was only several months ago the government increased the minimum wage by 10 percent. With the raise Thursday, the minimum wage will go from 3,270 bolivars ($520) to 4,252 bolivars ($675).
Critics note the figures quote the government-set exchange rate, and point out the raise amounts to only $67 at black market rates. Strict currency controls have driven the number of available dollars out of the country and have led to price increases, they add.
Since demonstrations began in February, 41 people have been killed and hundreds more injured. They blame Maduro for mismanaging Venezuela’s oil-rich economy and demand his resignation.