Public sector workers in Venezuela march for better wages

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CARACAS (Reuters) – Hundreds of public sector workers, including teachers, nurses and retired police officers, took to the streets in Venezuela on Monday to demand better salaries and pensions as the government of President Nicolas Maduro is facing rising inflation.

Venezuelan education and health workers have staged three peaceful demonstrations in a dozen cities so far this year to demand more money.

Venezuela’s minimum wage of 130 bolivars a month — just about $6 — was last adjusted in March 2022 when inflation hit 305% year-on-year, according to non-governmental groups that monitor economic indicators. in the absence of official data.

The government says that US sanctions have made it impossible to control the growth of consumer prices.

“Hunger knows no fear, when hunger comes, fear goes away,” said teacher Nancy Hernandez, 60 years old, during a demonstration in Barquisimeto, referring to possible clashes with the police.

In Maracaibo, the capital of the once powerful and oil-rich state of Zulia in northwestern Venezuela, protesters marched on the governor’s office.

“What we are seeing is more than just abuse,” said Gustavo Gonzalez, 60, Zulia’s reserve police officer. “We are starving.”

“We will have to close the police hospital because (…) there is not even an association. We are the police from the forgotten Zulia, we have neither shoes nor uniforms,” ​​added Gonzalez.

“I never thought I would live to be 63 years old and depend on garbage for food,” said Humberto Montiel, a retiree who used to work in the construction of the airport.

Montiel wants to clean the patios and collect the garbage because “if my meager pension ends, I will still be hungry,” he said.

In Valencia, a city in the center of Venezuela, Jose Francisco Jimenez, general secretary of the Employees’ Association at the University of Carabobo, said that he and his friends gathered to demand a dignified salary.

“Over $10[month]salary, it is impossible for a family of four or five to live,” said Jimenez, 56 years old.

(Reporting by Keren Torres in Barquisimeto, Mariela Nava in Maracaibo and Tibisay Romero in Valencia; writing by Oliver Griffin, editing by Alistair Bell)

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