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Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro hikes wages amid violent protests, rallies support for constitutional amendment

Caracas: Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro is hiking salaries as he tries to overcome major protests and rally support for his plans to rewrite the constitution.

File image of Maduro.

File image of Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro said on his Sunday television show that the minimum wage will rise 50 percent starting this month. Workers will earn at least 250,000 bolivars per month including food subsidies, or less than $35 at the black market exchange rate.

It's the third wage increase this year as triple-digit inflation erodes workers' savings.

At least 80 people have died during the past three months of protests seeking Maduro's removal. The demonstrations gained intensity after Maduro called for a special election to choose delegates to rewrite the constitution in a poll that opponents say heavily favours the unpopular socialist leader.

The embattled president earlier repeated claims of a US-backed coup attempt against him and angrily warned US president Donald Trump that Venezuela would fight back against such a move.

His comments came after he announced the arrests of five opponents he accused of plotting against him to clear the way for a US invasion. It was one of the more dramatic in a regular series of anti-US harangues by the socialist leader, 54, who is resisting opposition calls for elections to remove him.

"If Venezuela were dragged into chaos and violence... we would fight," Maduro bellowed in a speech to supporters.

If a coup prevented his side fulfilling his contested reform plans, he said, "we would achieve it by arms." He said that an armed intervention in his country would spark a crisis that would dwarf those caused by conflicts in West Asia.

Addressing Trump, he said: "You are responsible for restraining the madness of the Venezuelan right-wing." Clashes at daily street protests against Maduro over the past three months have left 76 people dead, prosecutors say.

The opposition blames Maduro for an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine in the oil-rich country.

They regularly accuse him of repressing and jailing opponents. Judicial NGO Foro Penal says there are 383 political prisoners in Venezuela.

Published Date: Jul 03, 2017 07:21 AM | Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 07:21 AM

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