Venezuelan Leader Nicolás Maduro Orders Big Boost to Minimum Wage

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday promised workers a 40 percent rise in the minimum wage, after opponents seeking to drive him from power called for a general strike.

"The state must understand that maintaining and sharpening the political and institutional crisis only worsens the quality of life of Venezuelans", the statement said.

Miguel Mederico, press chief for police in Miranda, said the officer was "shot in the abdomen" and died in a nearby clinic.

If officials don't resume halted referendum proceedings, opposition leaders vowed to march to the presidential palace next week and make sure President Nicolás Maduro hears them.

Maduro, the 53-year-old socialist leader, blamed the opposition of plotting a coup with the U.S. help and ruled out a recall referendum.

The stoppage recalled opposition tactics used in 2002 ahead of a coup against then President Hugo Chavez.

Over 120 people were injured in anti-government protests in major cities throughout Venezuela late on Wednesday, opposition leader Henrique Capriles said.

In Caracas, students casually sat on the country's main highway. One protester dressed as Lady Justice, with a scale and white blindfold.

Ramos Allup convened a special session of congress over the weekend after the CNE election council put on hold the second phase of a signature-gathering campaign aimed at forcing a referendum on recalling Maduro.

Numerous protesters who gathered for today's demonstration described the cancellation of the referendum effort as proof that Venezuela has abandoned the last vestiges of democracy and gone full dictatorship. "They are giving the government too much time to maneuver".

The origins of this infamous phrase can be debated, but it most likely originated with Oscar Benavides, who was president of Peru from 1914-'15 and again from 1933-'39.

Unlike other countries in Latin America such as Brazil, where Dilma Rousseff was removed from the presidency in August, Venezuela's National Assembly can't impeach the president. That power lies with the Supreme Court, which has never voted against Maduro and which has ruled that the president can ignore laws passed by the congress.

Opposition lawmakers were inside hearing declarations about the crisis from civil groups.

While the talks are scheduled to begin Sunday on Margarita Island, the opposition alliance has said it will only participate if the dialogue is held in Caracas.

Despite the growing tensions, Pope Francis met privately Maduro at the Vatican on Monday and urged him to spark a meaningful dialogue with opposition leaders.

The South American country is facing a political and economic crisis where basic goods such as food and medicine are in short supply, unavailable or unaffordable. "The head of the armed forces Vladimir Padrino, who is also Maduro";s defence minister, declared 'unconditional loyalty" to the president on Tuesday.

National Assembly head Henry Ramos, a veteran politician who swaps insults with Maduro nearly daily, declined an invitation to attend. But media reports said government supporters and security forces impeded their access to the building. Maduro went on to call for national unity. "I want everyone to behave reasonably and know that we are all Venezuelans". By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information. Please see our terms of service for more information.

  • Leroy Wright