#BonoNoEsSalario: the citizen’s demand ignored by Maduro

#BonoNoEsSalario: the citizen’s demand ignored by Maduro

Published on 06 May 2024

Maduro hides behind sanctions to avoid salary increase.

For the second consecutive year, Nicolás Maduro did not increase the minimum wage in Venezuela. On Labor Day the announcement was different. The Minimum Monthly Income of workers was increased by 30%, but only through an increase in bonuses and not in the salary. 

Something expected? In part. Although the labor unions asked for a minimum wage of $200, the $130 minimum monthly income will be paid through bonuses that do not affect social benefits, vacation pay or Christmas bonuses. 

A day before Maduro’s announcement, the civil society was already positioning (with approximately 10,000) the hashtag #BonoNoEsSalario (#BonoNoEsSalario). The digital protest of unions and public workers demanding the salary increase -which continues to be relegated to 13o bolivars ($3.5)- was once again ignored by the Chavista government. 

The economic condition and wages have become a recurring theme in the conversation of civil society in social networks Since 2022, ProBox reported that these issues occupied 72% of the messages registered by Venezuelans and tags such as #SalarioJustoYa were positioned in Twitter trends…. 

The mobilization of the unions for their labor demands, since at least 2022, has been evidenced not only in the streets, but also in protests in networks, mainly driven by the teachers’ union, but which have been joined by other sectors and unions of civil society. 

In Venezuela, the labor reality is hitting workers at all levels. The golden age in which citizens bet on the benefits and stability of a job in a large public or private sector company is over. Now salaries are lower, more hours are worked and labor vulnerability has skyrocketed

In fact, the minimum wage in the country is no longer a reference. With $3.5 a month, a pensioner can buy little or nothing in Venezuela. Nor is it much what they can get with the $35 they are paid through the Patria System.  Pensioners are the most vulnerable, and the solution given by Maduro on this occasion to assist them was a new Law that seeks that private companies pay a monthly tax to help pay the 5 million pensioners in the country. 

So far, Venezuela continues to be the country with the lowest minimum wage in the region, with an average of $350 per month. 

On May 1st, many workers were expecting a higher salary increase or a decent income, partly due to the proximity of the presidential elections. To the surprise of some, this did not happen. 

Thus, the demands through #BonoNoEsSalario, driven by unions, guilds and organized workers, remained just that, in one more protest that was ignored by the Maduro regime; despite the fact that the conversation in this tag reflected (97% authenticity) in its more than 10 thousand tweets. 

But it is not only wages, the call of the workers is also aligned to better working conditions and the release of workers imprisoned in the hands of the regime. Among them are professors Rober Franco and Javier Tarazona and CVG Sidor workers Daniel Romero and Leonardo Azócar. 

In contrast to the workers’ protests registered in several states of the country, mobilizing for the demands of labor demands; the online conversation dictated by the MIPPCI day hashtag on May 1 was #MayoDeTransformacion, with 46,900 tweets approximately, by analyzing one thousand messages of the same, ProBox found that at least 29.9% were inorganic; that is, out of one thousand tweets, 299 were manipulated.

It is noteworthy that on this day the Minister of Communication, Freddy Ñáñez, published a tweet with a message celebrating Maduro’s alleged salary increase, but the official account of the Ministry of Communication did not set a trend on the subject and focused on a message more aligned with the presidential campaign in favor of Maduro, despite the fact that the official start of the campaign is scheduled for July 5 and that public institutions such as the ministries should not, by law, be framed in these campaigns. 

In the midst of the crisis faced by the country since 2013, the figure of bonuses has gained strength to the detriment of workers’ salaries. In this way, the bonuses through the Sistema Patria have become a measure of control of the National Executive over the population. 

In fact, the bonus that replaces the salary as a monthly payment measure is called Bono de Guerra Económica (Economic Warfare Bonus), framing the sanctions as responsible for the economic condition that Venezuelans are going through. 

“The sanctions of April 18 had one objective, to prevent us on May 1 from taking another step in the recovery of workers’ income, but they could not, nor will they be able to,” he said during his speech

While the Venezuelan government mobilized its structure to promote and support the campaign in favor of Maduro in its usual act in Bolivar Avenue in Caracas on May 1st, the street protest organized by the different unions, teachers and retirees in Venezuela was repressed. Through social networks it could be seen how the march called in Caracas was attacked by supporters of Chavismo, who beat up the workers who were marching for the demand of a living wage. 

That same night, Chavista leader Diosdado Cabello positioned on social networks the hashtag #ConChávezYMaduroPaLaCalle, through his TV program Con El Mazo Dando. “We will continue marching, preparing for the battles to come, unity guarantees new victories. United We Will Overcome!!!”, he wrote in his X account.

Despite having a presidential election coming up, Maduro skipped the opportunity to increase wages to get votes, a strategy used by Chavismo since its beginnings. In addition, his supporters and more radical sectors went out that same day to criminalize and repress the protest of workers demanding fair wages. 

Even with the reprisals and the regime’s attempt to make the protest invisible, Venezuelans continue to fight for the increase of a minimum wage that has been frozen for two years, with serious consequences on the country’s income poverty indexes. 

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