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Anti-Maduro protests: Venezuelan President vows 40% pay hike to soothe unrest

The government said a police officer was killed in the northern state of Miranda and three people were shot during the anti-Maduro protests. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Oct 27, 2016, 10.20 PM (IST)

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

Speaking on Thursday at a ceremony to inaugurate a social housing project, Maduro added a gesture of appeasement with the wage proposal.

"I decree and will sign a 40 per cent overall rise in workers' legal minimum wage," he said in a public speech, a day after the opposition staged mass street demonstrations against him.

The socialist leader is resisting growing pressure from the opposition MUD coalition, which blames him for Venezuela's plunge into economic chaos.

Opposition leaders have sharpened their tone after authorities infuriated them last week by halting procedures to hold a referendum on removing Maduro.

The MUD called a 12-hour general strike for Friday and vowed to march in protest to the presidential palace next week.

Clashes broke out at some of Wednesday's protests, which drew hundreds of thousands of people. The government said a police officer was killed in the northern state of Miranda.

Three people were shot in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, said Alfredo Romero, head of Venezuelan rights group Foro Penal.

Maduro's number two Diosdado Cabello warned that any business that shuts for a general strike could be taken "by the workers, and by the armed forces."

It was unclear to what extent the move would soothe popular anger in Venezuela, where citizens are suffering shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies.


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