Coro, October 11th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government announced that it would create a mission for the nation’s senior citizens this Monday, in order to provide a better quality of life for Venezuela’s older generations.
In an interview with Mauro Gonzalez on news channel Radiomundial, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez stated, “Just as there are missions available for women [Madres del Barrio] and infants [Baby Jesus Mission]”, there should also be one that addresses the needs of older people. Chávez affirmed that the new mission would be officially announced before the end of the year and is to address a whole range of issues, including access to social security for senior citizens and age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
“It is necessary for us to consolidate different programs, institutions, the participation [of senior citizens] and revolutionary and socialist organisations. It is a mission that will address a series of different cases,” said the president.
During the interview, the president highlighted that many senior citizens still do not have access to social welfare, either through INASS (National Institute of Social Services) or through IVSS (Venezuelan Institute of Social Security). One of the mission’s main focuses would be to address the situation of this excluded group, said president Chávez.
“There are many senior citizens who are not in social security, or in INASS, and they are living in a situation of poverty. They don’t have a pension as they never worked, or because the company they were working for exploited them and didn’t adhere to the law, including the state,” he said.
Whereas IVSS is responsible for the payment of pensions to the working population, INASS is an alternative government initiative formed in 2005 that aims to provide support to senior citizens. The institute offers economic and technical assistance to older generations, as well as spaces to carry out activities in order to promote an “active old age” and a culture of integration within the community.
The president revealed that there are currently 200,000 senior citizens who are currently receiving economic benefits from the INASS initiative and that the government would work to equal this amount in the IVSS.
“I have the firm intention to progressively – as money keeps accruing - keep equalling the benefits that senior citizens receive in INASS in pensions,” said Chávez, who also announced that he had approved almost 9 billion bolivars (US$2 billion) in order to pay for pensions in December and January.
Speaking to the president, Gonzalez contrasted the current situation of senior citizens in Venezuela with that of previous governments.
“Previously, [the government] only paid 10% of the minimum wage. Now the IVSS doesn’t just provide a pension, but there is free medical attention, rehabilitation and other services”.
Gonzalez is the representative of the Socialist Front for Senior Citizens and is currently the host of radio program “Tertulia”. The talk-show host pointed out that such a job would have been inconceivable for a senior citizen during previous governments, when ageist policies still dominated in the media and the work environment.
“In the past we didn’t have space and getting old was like committing a crime, now it’s different...We are still alive and there is lots that we can do,” he added.