updated 11/24/2005 8:52:31 PM ET 2005-11-25T01:52:31

Peruvian lawmakers voted to trim a hefty year-end bonus Thursday, bowing to public outrage in one of Latin America's poorest countries.

Legislators in the unicameral Congress reduced the special payment to $22,600 from the $34,000 they had approved for themselves on Tuesday.

"Congress has corrected a serious error," said lawmaker Hildebrando Tapia of the opposition Nacional Unity party.

After learning of Congress' original plan, Peruvians called radio stations to express their outrage.

An editorial in leading Peruvian newspaper El Comercio called the salary bonus "unprecedented and undignified."

"In the midst of so many needy people, they decide to increase their salaries," said Monsignor Luis Bambaren, a civil rights activist.

Almost 55 percent of Peru's 27 million people live in poverty, earning about $2 a day, according to government statistics.

The monthly minimum wage is $137 and teachers on average earn $300 a month.

Several members of Congress, however, defended the bonus, which comes on top of about $85,000 they average yearly.

"I have done a good job, and I deserve more," said congressman Santos Jaimes of the Peru Now party.

Peru's Congress has an 82 percent disapproval rating.

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