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Last update: Sat, 01 Oct 2016 03pm

South America

World - South America

Venezuela hikes minimum wage by 50pc as inflation soars CARACAS: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday announced a 50 percent minimum wage hike that takes effect on Sept. 1, amid triple-digit inflation that has severely weakened spending power in the crisis-stricken OPEC nation. Monthly minimum wage will rise to 22,577 bolivars, around $35 at the weaker of two official exchange rates but about $23 at the black market rate. Including meal tickets, it will rise to 65,056 bolivars."This is the third (minimum wage) hike this year," Maduro said during a televised broadcast.Critics say repeated salary increases are woefully insufficient to offset inflation, which reached 181 percent in 2015 according to official figures. The central bank has not published more up-to-date inflation figures, which opposition leaders say is meant to hide embarrassing economic data.Venezuela's state-led economic system has been steadily collapsing since the fall of oil prices in 2014.Opposition leaders say the situation will not improve without a change of ...

World - South America

Court upholds Venezuela opposition leader's 14-year sentence CARACAS: A Venezuelan court upheld the 14-year sentence of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on Friday, in a move likely to increase tension in the crisis-hit South American country.Lopez has repeatedly declared himself innocent of the charge of inciting violence at anti-government protests in 2014, calling himself a political prisoner."This is certainly a political trial. Unfortunately, the government's interest takes priority over the justice system," Lopez's lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez told AFP."They upheld his sentence ...

World - South America

Colombia, Venezuela to reopen border: presidents PUERTO ORDAZ: Venezuela and Colombia agreed Thursday to reopen pedestrian border crossings between their countries, a year after Venezuela closed the frontier in a dispute over security and smuggling.Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he and his Venezuelan counterpart agreed to open five pedestrian crossings for 15 hours a day from Saturday."What we are going to do is open the border gradually," Santos told reporters after talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro."It will be a ...

World - South America

15 OAS states urge Venezuela to act on recall 'without delay' WASHINGTON: A group of 15 countries called on Venezuela Thursday to act "without delay" to clear the way for an election over whether to recall President Nicolas Maduro from office as a way out of a worsening crisis.The countries, all members of the Organization of American States, issued the joint statement after the head of Venezuela's election authority laid out a schedule this week that appears likely to push any recall election into 2017.The timeline ...

World - South America

Maduro gloats over Venezuela opposition's faltering recall bid CARACAS: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro late Tuesday taunted his political opponents after they hit an apparent roadblock in efforts to oust him from office.Opposition leaders must hold a recall referendum by January 10 if they are to succeed not only in removing Maduro but in staging new elections to replace his administration.The National Electoral Council (CNE) has approved the first of two petitions required to organize a referendum, which they aim to do by the ...

World - South America

Impeachment trial looms for Brazil's beleaguered Rousseff BRASÍLIA: Brazil's Senate voted early Wednesday to hold an impeachment trial for the nation's suspended president Dilma Rousseff, a process that could see her permanently removed from office.The vote in favor of trying Rousseff, who was suspended from the presidency in May, was 59 in favor, 21 against.The Senate suspended Rousseff, the South American nation's first female president, on May 12 over accusations of illegal accounting practices and fiddling the budget to mask a slumping ...

World - South America

Brazil to modify debt relief bill for states, re-work fiscal law BRASILIA: The Brazilian government will make changes to a controversial bill that limits the spending of cash-strapped states, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on Monday, in a last-minute effort to fast-track the approval of austerity measures. Meirelles said the government will remove from the bill on state debts measures that would limit their expenditures on state employees.Their current expenditures will be addressed in separate legislation that will re-work the country's fiscal responsibility law. He said ...