In response to explosive anti-government protests, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised Sunday to raise the minimum wage by 60%. His critics claim the pay hike, announced during Maduro's weekly televised address, is a political distraction amid protests that have left 29 dead in just about a month, reports NPR. (Opposition activists want new elections established and political prisoners released.) Critics also fear the pay hike will worsen the domestic inflation rate, already predicted to hit 720% next year.
The wage increase is the third enacted this year, and with food subsidies included, amounts to about $47 per month. The embattled leader’s maneuver speaks to his party’s base, Venezuela’s poorest citizens. “We're here to take care of the workers, those who are most humble, and not the privileges of the oligarchs,” he said during Sundays With Maduro. But the Washington Post reports that, though protesters over the past month have been mostly middle-class citizens upset with the country's economic collapse and the government's authoritarian rule, poorer citizens are starting to join the ranks due to food shortages.