Maduro says Trump hounding Venezuela ‘like Hitler persecuted Jews’
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Maduro says Trump hounding Venezuela ‘like Hitler persecuted Jews’

South American leader raises minimum wage, claims Washington is using sanctions to wage an economic war against the country

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela speaks during a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela, September 18, 2018. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)
President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela speaks during a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela, September 18, 2018. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s socialist president boosted the minimum wage 150 percent Thursday to combat what he called an economic war being waged by the United States as he compared US President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

“Just like Hitler persecuted the Jewish people, Donald Trump persecutes the people of Venezuela,” President Nicolas Maduro said.

Maduro further vented his frustrations against US economic sanctions that block Venezuela from financial markets, saying they keep the cash-strapped government from refinancing billions in debts and easing its crisis.

Despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela is in the fifth year of an economic crisis worse than the Great Depression.

Critics blame Venezuela’s crash on two decades of failed socialist rule, corruption and mismanagement of the state-run oil company PDVSA.

Maduro, who blames the US and other opponents, said he is helping struggling Venezuelans by boosting the minimum wage to fight inflation that the International Monetary Fund has said could top 1 million percent this year.

The wage increase brings the monthly pay most Venezuelan workers bring home to 4,500 bolivars. That’s about $11 on the commonly used black market exchange.

Maduro announced the raise, calling it a correction to his economic recovery plan launched 100 days ago. He recently unveiled new currency in August that lopped off five zeros from previous bank notes.

Officials in the Trump administration consider Venezuela’s government a developing dictatorship. Maduro won a second six-year term as president this year in an election that the United States and many countries in Europe and Latin America considered a sham.

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