Venezuela’s monthly minimum wage has fallen to under one dollar a month amid the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in the country’s history.
According to the website DolarToday, which tracks the real value of the Venezuelan bolívar against the U.S. dollar, the basic minimum wage of 248,000 bolivares is now worth just $0.95, equivalent to a shocking 0.59 cents ($ 0.0059) an hour.
The shocking collapse comes despite socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro raising the country’s minimum wage multiple times over the past few years, as well as releasing higher denomination bank notes to keep up with skyrocketing rates of inflation.
Maduro’s last minimum wage hike was at the beginning of January, where he announced, “Good news regarding the protection and stability of all the workers” by raising the minimum wage by 40 percent to approximately two dollars a month while decrying an “economic war” led by the United States.
However, all minimum wage hikes naturally lead to increased rates of inflation, meaning they actually lower the value of people’s monthly income as the currency is rendered practically worthless.
Amid years of lavish spending under the late president Hugo Chávez and catastrophic economic mismanagement by his successor Maduro, rates of inflation are now the highest in the world, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting that it will reach 13,000 percent in 2018.
The government’s release of highest denomination banknotes, designed to ease the problem of people carrying large amounts of currency, has also proven to be a failure. The highest denomination note of 100,000 bolivares is worth 38 cents. It is also impossible to take more than one dollar out the bank.
As a result of this economic disaster, Venezuela is now experiencing a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented levels, with millions of people desperately short of living essentials such as food, medicine, and basic sanitary products.
Venezuela’s economic problems also extend beyond hyperinflation, having defaulted on their $200 billion worth of debt owed to mainly China and Russia, while also contending with economic sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union in response to growing levels of human rights violations and a rapid descent into socialist dictatorship.
On Tuesday, Maduro called for an early presidential election, claiming that “imperialism and the right were plotting to take over the economy,” and declaring that “Donald Trump is not the boss of Venezuela.” Yet given Maduro’s widespread popularity and his ruling socialist party’s track record of rigging elections, analysts widely believe the election will be rigged.