The Americas

Venezuela's Maduro hikes minimum wage amid rising protests

  • University students hold a candlelight vigil for their late classmate Juan Pablo Pernalete in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Students commemorated Pernalete who was killed this week by security forces during an anti-government protest. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    University students hold a candlelight vigil for their late classmate Juan Pablo Pernalete in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Students commemorated Pernalete who was killed this week by security forces during an anti-government protest. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

  • An anti-government protester stands in front of burning barricade on a highway in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, April 24, 2017. Thousands of protesters shut down the capital city's main highway to express their disapproval with the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. Protesters in least a dozen other cities also staged sit-ins as the protest movement is entering its fourth week. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    An anti-government protester stands in front of burning barricade on a highway in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, April 24, 2017. Thousands of protesters shut down the capital city's main highway to express their disapproval with the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. Protesters in least a dozen other cities also staged sit-ins as the protest movement is entering its fourth week. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is hiking salaries and handing out free homes as he tries to counter a strengthening protest movement calling for his removal.

Maduro said on his Sunday TV show that the minimum wage will rise 60 percent starting May 1. Workers will earn at least 200,000 bolivars per month including food subsidies, or less than $50 at the black market exchange rate.

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

The president also watched as authorities in several states handed over the keys to hundreds of new apartments.

Nearly 30 people have died in April from violence related to protests demanding the departure of Maduro, who critics say has violated democratic norms. Maduro accused his opponents of conspiring to overthrow him.