Venezuelan senior citizens Wednesday marched through Caracas' Plaza de La Moneda, not far from the presidential Miraflores Palace, to launch an SOS message and call for help as they can barely survive on their pay.
Carlos Julio Rivera, president of the National Union of Retired Workers of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security explained the minimum wage and pension of 7 bolívares a month (less than US $ 2) was of little help with the basic food basket costing around US $ 700 a month.
In this country with so much wealth, we have the worst salary in the entire world. We make an SOS call to the world to help us, he cried. Rivera also explained that whoever buys the bag of food that the government sells cannot buy medical treatment ... and cannot have any type of recreation.
Rivera insisted that according to the constitution, the minimum wage must be 700 dollars, which is the cost of the basic basket because Article 91 of the Constitution says that to increase the minimum wage, the cost of the basic basket will be taken as a reference and that must be the minimum wage of all workers in this country.
Since Maduro took office in May 2013 until May 2021, the minimum wage fell 97.2%, which has placed the earnings of Venezuelans below that of all other Latin American people and also of many impoverished African nations, according to local economists.
Rivera also pointed out the protest is not for salary alone but also for the right to health care and equipped hospitals, which have no medicines and do not provide assistance to people without a smartphone. He also urged Social Security authorities to stop charging people for something they don't give.
Another protester, Carlos Segundo, aged 84, criticized the Maduro government for not listening to people who demand decent wages and quality health. We don't want any handouts. The world has to realize that we exist, and that we are suffering. We are worse off than Africa.
An oncology patient who also took part in the demonstrations said she needed radiotherapy but she would not get it if she could not afford to pay between US $ 3,500 or 5,000. Emma Peña also said there were 5 radiotherapy machines at the Llanito hospital, but only one worked, while the government spent millions on things that do not interest us.
Luis Cano, from the Frente Amplio de Jubilados y Pensionados movement, affirmed that before the indifferent gaze of the State, we decided to take to the streets to demand that it comply with the constitution.
Next Tuesday the 15th we are going to exercise the right to peaceful but forceful protest, because we decided that if we are going to die of hunger in our homes, we are going to die in the streets fighting for our rights.