Minimum wage increased by 30 percent in Venezuela despite high inflation rate

Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro announces to raise minimum wage 30 percent despite country's struggling economy

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raised the country's minimum wage on Friday, May 1, despite the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) nation's economic struggles since the dramatic fall in the price of oil which has contributed to the highest inflation rate in South America.

"That's why I'm announcing today a 30 percent increase in the minimum salary for workers," he told a crowd in Caracas who had gathered for May Day celebrations.

The announcement comes despite low oil prices, a volatile currency and inflation that last year totalled 68 percent, the highest of any economy in the Americas.

The plunge in oil prices has hurt the South American economy as crude is the OPEC nation's main export and source of dollars.

But workers have clamored for a rise in wages, saying their incomes cannot keep up with inflation.

Critics say the government's failed socialist policies are to blame for the country's economic woes, while Maduro has said opponents are deliberately price gouging and hoarding as part of an economic "war" against him.

Maduro, a burly 52-year-old former bus driver and union boss, has staked his presidency of maintaining Chavez's radical socialism and kept up his predecessor's anti-imperialist rhetoric

He told the crowd of supporters that workers should lead the country's economy. "Today, the first of May of 2015, we commit to prepare for workers to take over the country's economic management."

The annual May Day march in Caracas touts the working-class roots of the Venezuelan government.

Earlier this year, Maduro launched a 70 percent devaluation of the bolivar via a new "free floating" currency system known as Simadi.