Brazilian retirees, sentenced to work

Brazilian retirees, sentenced to work

In full discussion of the controversial pension reform proposed by the Government of Jair Bolsonaro, about one in four retirees are forced to continue working to stay in Brazil.

While Congress is analyzing the hard project that aims to harden the conditions to obtain that benefit and save close to 265,000 million dollars in 10 years, Iván, Rosilda and Manuel are oblivious to the intense debate. Your problems will not end with the pension reform.

All of them, like thousands of retirees and pensioners in Brazil, continue to work, many times in the informal market, to supplement an income that in 65% of cases does not exceed a minimum wage per month, which today is 998 reais (260 dollars).

Iván Ferreira is 59 years old, is retired after completing the quotation time established by current legislation -35 years for men and 30 for women-, but for almost a year he sells coffee and homemade biscuits in a traveling stall, in a Downtown Plaza of the city of Sao Paulo.

"My wife lost her job and set up a cafeteria on the street, I started to help her and started working on the street to complete my salary, because retirement is not enough," she says in an interview with Efe.

His day is marathon. They arrive around 06:00 in the morning, they leave at noon and in the afternoon they prepare the cakes the next day. So almost every day. "I would like not to have to work more, be at home, resting, walking, traveling, enjoying with the family ...", he adds.

Like Ferreira, 21% of retirees are still working in Brazil, of which almost half (47%) cite as one of the main reasons for doing so the difficulties they have to pay the bills, according to a survey by the National Confederation of Commercial Managers and the Credit Protection Service.

Oswaldo Almeida, 63, is on his way to joining that group. Retired seven years ago, looking for a truck driver job or whatever comes up.

He receives the minimum, lives with his wife, one of his daughters and two grandchildren and he is outraged that he has to "work his whole life" for 260 dollars and that an official of the Legislative Branch has an average retirement of 26,800 reais (about 7,000 dollars) ).

Bolsonaro and his Economy Minister, liberal Paulo Guedes, say that their pension reform, which includes the imposition of a minimum age of 62 for women and 65 for men, will end the "privileges" and warn that if it is not approved, Brazil "will go bankrupt".

For his part, the president of the National Union of Retirees, Joao Batista, asserts that this premise is a "big lie" and that what there is is "bad administration" because historically the pension fund has been used "to make politics".

For him there are two groups of retirees that reflect the harsh reality. Those who are financially supported by the family and those who still support part of it.

"Here in Brazil if you want to live with dignity, you have to pay for a health plan (private) and for an old man you can not find it for less than 500, 600 reais (130, 155 dollars) .One minimally reasonable are more than 1,000 reais (260 dollars), then for someone who perceives the minimum, the entire pension was gone, "explains the union leader.

The increase in minimum pensions is not among the objectives included in the pension reform of Bolsonaro, who in his first 100 days of government, which are met on Wednesday, has bet practically everything to the approval of this text.

In that situation is also Rosilda Alves, 52 years old. As she herself defines, she lives "tight" thanks to a death pension a little above the minimum that forces her to work as an intermittent seamstress.

His partner has not been able to get a steady job for three years and is now a temporary worker in the construction sector of a country with an annual per capita income of 32,747 reais (about 8,500 dollars), a figure that hides behind extreme inequality.

In Rio de Janeiro, Manuel Robalino, 82, still sells potatoes, tomatoes and legumes in a square and is blunt to describe the Brazilian retirement system: "It's a failure."

"I have been retired since 1987 and every year the value falls a bit, then the day will come when I will keep the minimum wage," he tells Efe. He says he does not know if the reform "benefits or hurts" the current taxpayers, but that the future will be "more difficult" for them.

"The government has a deficit and they want to correct it, they want to reduce it, but I do not know if they will achieve it," he declares without disguising his pessimism.

Carlos Meneses Sánchez


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