By Genesis Carrero Soto
Caracas, Jul 28 (EFE) – With pension income of no more than $5 a month and other retirement payouts also woefully insufficient, older adults in Venezuela have been forced to return to the workforce out of pure necessity.
If not, they would have no means of surviving in a country where the basic monthly food basket for five people costs more than $500.
The non-governmental organization Convite says most older adults must supplement their income amid the country’s longstanding economic crisis, which the modest economic recovery of the past two years has only partially allayed.
The director of that organization, Luis Francisco Cabezas, told EFE that most pensioners who have returned to the job market find that opportunities are scarce and must work in physically demanding occupations such as construction or security.
WORKING OUT OF NECESSITY
Convite’s director said many elderly people are regarded as cheap labor and receive a plate of food a day or bags of food as compensation for their work.
Furthermore, he said that Venezuela – home currently to around 3.8 million people aged 60 or older – is a country unprepared for an aging population.
A decrease in the birth rate and increased life expectancy have led to an increasingly higher number of older adults in a nation ill-equipped to cope with that demographic shift.
He added that the situation is worse for older people who currently live alone due to mass outward migration triggered by economic crisis and harsh US sanctions on Venezuela’s lifeblood oil industry, with some 7.3 million people having left that South American country since 2015, according to the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants.
ONLINE WORK REINSERTION PLATFORM
To respond to the needs of this age group, initiatives have sprung up such as “ReActivados” (www.reactivadosvzla.com), an online platform that provides training and employment opportunities to older people while they continue their push for a dignified pension.
Roberto Patiño, leader of that initiative, said its goal is to leverage its partnerships with the private sector and academia to increase work opportunities for older people, provide them with training tools and “make the struggle for their demands more visible.”
“This initiative is born from a very painful reality that is occurring with our senior citizens, with our pensioners and retirees,” he told EFE.
“The reality of having an undignified pension of barely 130 bolivares that’s not enough for anything and, on top of that, facing discrimination in the labor market because they’re elderly.”
Those interested in that initiative register online and are included in a database that ReActivados uses to connect them with existing opportunities.
He said the experience of older adults is necessary “for the reconstruction of Venezuela” in areas such as education, where the lack of trained personnel is particularly evident.
Patiño said therefore that providing these people with instruction in technological subjects and incorporating them into the workforce is “a necessity.” EFE