Venezuela: Maduro Gifts Loyal Police Officers $5 Christmas Bonus

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, seen here in a handout photo speaking during an event in Caracas, says he wants the debt-ridden state oil company restructured and has named a general to lead the effort
Venezuelan Presidency/AFP HO

Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has gifted officers from the country’s national police force a $5 Christmas bonus, as well as an extended holiday to thank them for their loyalty to his socialist regime.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for 6,900 new members of the National Bolivarian Police (PNB), Maduro announced he would give a bonus of 500,000 Bolivares to all officers.

“I want to give a gift to the PNB through the Carnet de la Patria. Today I’m going to give you an extra Christmas bonus of 500 thousand bolivars, to give you a Merry Christmas,” Maduro said.

State propaganda channel VTV described the bonus as a “Christmas fund given to over 8 million Venezuelan families, as part of the socioeconomic policies designed to fight the economic war against the political right.”

According to latest exchange rates, 500,000 bolivares is equivalent to $4.34.

“In addition, you, graduates, have Christmas leave until January 8 to share with their families,” Maduro continued. “And I say to the PNB: thank you for the effort of 2017 and prepare ourselves for 2018, which comes with its workload, hope, and victory.”

Maduro also congratulated over 200 graduating police officers trained in sign language to aid citizens with hearing disabilities.

“Long live the PNB,” Maduro declared, which they consequently translated into sign language.

The PNB remains one of the key security apparatuses keeping the Maduro regime in power, along with the military and the national guard, and have received international condemnation for their use of brutality to contain political dissidents.

During the widespread protest movement that rocked the country from April to August this year, police and national guardsmen regularly used water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas against protesters, leading to the deaths of at least 125 people.

The gift is just one of the government’s many measly handouts to civil servants and the country’s poorest communities after Maduro declared the beginning of a “Christmas season of happiness” on November 1.

Last month, Maduro also announced a 500,000 Bolivar “Baby Jesus Bonus” for the country’s poorest families, as well as plans to provide “10 million gifts for the children of Venezuela.” Last year, toys were provided by seizing them from private businesses, which the government claimed was an attempt to show “that you can’t play with the rights of Venezuelans.”

Although comparatively low, the nearly $5 bonus is a significant sum of money for many Venezuelan families amid the country’s worsening political and humanitarian crisis. The country’s monthly minimum wage of 175,000 bolivares is now worth just $1.52, equivalent to under one cent an hour.

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