Monday, January 30, 2023

Venezuela: public workers demand better pay

CARACAS ( Associated Press) – Hundreds of active and retired public health and education workers demonstrated Wednesday in downtown Caracas, demanding better working conditions and better pay.

The march, covering a distance of about one kilometer from the Ministry of Public Affairs to the office of the Ombudsman, was called the “burial march” in reference to the fact that the salaries of public servants have been “buried” by inflation.

“Yesterday I was taking plates and glasses out of my cabinet to sell and eat,” said Ariani Bruzual, a 63-year-old retired teacher who is a cancer patient. Bruzual’s pension amounts to seven dollars a month, not enough to buy food or medicine, for which she and her husband have managed to survive by selling their electrical equipment and other possessions.

The teacher said that she refuses to stay at home after seeing her belongings consumed without buying medicines. He is currently not getting treatment for cancer as he does not have the resources. “I am above God,” she said with tears in her eyes.

The last increase to the minimum wage took place in March 2022, when the government published a presidential decree in the Official Gazette that set it at 130 sovereign bolivars, which at the time was equivalent to $30.66 per month, and currently only seven Is.

Tibide Marquez, a waitress at Hospital Vargas, one of the capital’s main public health centers, makes a minimum wage that doesn’t allow her to cover the cost of public transportation to her workplace. “We work by profession,” said the woman, who sells coffee and cigarettes at the door of the emergency room at night after finishing her shift at the hospital. Márquez said that in addition to improving salaries, there is a need for supplies, as the hospital does not have the basic materials to operate.

The Venezuelan Finance Observatory, a private organization run by opposition lawmakers, calculates that annual inflation reached 306% last year and 37% in December, the highest rate in 20 months.

The country’s economic and political crisis began in 2013 during the final months of the government of the late President Hugo Chávez and worsened during the government of his successor Nicolás Maduro.

According to a survey conducted by the Andrés Bello Catholic University, more than three quarters of the population live in extreme poverty, which has generated the largest migrant wave on the continent. The United Nations Organization estimates that more than seven million civilians have fled.

Nation World News Desk
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