Cuban Government Seeks to Apply ‘Neoliberal Recipes’ to Retirees

Returning to work after retirement will be voluntary, but since it is an economic improvement, Cubans without family assistance will be pushed more to take advantage of it. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 May 2021 — Cuba’s “new socioeconomic strategy to face the global crisis” increasingly resembles what the Havana regime calls neoliberalism. The reward for delaying the retirement age is one of the most recurrent recipes in capitalist societies to resolve the imbalance in public accounts caused by an aging population while taking advantage of the improvements in life expectancy and quality of life.

In recent years, this strategy has advanced across Europe. Just a month ago, Spain, one of the oldest countries in the world, advanced a measure to stimulate the delay in retirement: a check for 12,000 euros for those who wish to continue working after 66, the minimum age to retire in that country.

Cuba seems to have found, in these recipes, theoretically incompatible with the communist ideology, its salvation with the approval of a Decree Law published last week in which retirees are invited to return to work with economic incentives.

To date, to calculate the pension or retirement a limit of up to 90% of the average salary has been established. “With the application of this Decree Law 36, this changes if the interested party remains for five years after their reinstatement,” explains the official press.

On the one hand, those of retirement age have the right to receive, in general, salary and retirement jointly. Also, when the time comes to retire, their retirement pay will be increased by 2%.

Virginia Marlén García Reyes, general director of the National Institute of Social Security (Inass), told the official press that there is “avidity” among managers to implement the rule. In addition, he pointed out that the authorities intend to “make the procedures more flexible.” With the new rule, retirees may be hired again, even in the same position they held when they retired.

But, as usual, the majority of citizens do not find advantages in the proposal. Eduardo Moreno, 67, a resident of Old Havana, considers the “invitation” “an abuse” and “a lack of respect” for all those who for years worked for the State. “I spent 45 years working as a civil servant in a ministry, it was hard, very hard, and now I want to be at home with the grandchildren,” he says.

The fear, among some of those consulted, is that, in the midst of the economic and social crisis that Cuba is experiencing, there will be older people who will be forced to accept the proposal out of necessity.

“Everything is painted very nicely in the newspaper but with the prices as they are now, even if you have three salaries you cannot buy the basics you need. A friend of mine says that it suits her, but also because she lives alone and has no-one to help her, they are going to take advantage of those people. What they need to do is raise their pensions,” says Georgina, age 51. The woman, a resident of the Plaza de la Revolución municipality, is still able to work but does not even consider doing so after what is necessary. “They don’t think of people like me,” she says, adding that she will stay at home even if the country “is falling apart.”

Adriana Ramírez is retired, but at 62 she is not thinking about going back to work either. “I worked 35 years dispatching behind a counter and now I want to rest even though I don’t have the wherewithal. I have my son and a nephew who help me a lot and I can afford to say (to the Government), roundly, No. Unfortunately, there are many whose only economic support is their pension [she makes a gesture with her hand expressing how small these are] and they will have to think twice before refusing.”

“The young people are all leaving because of the lack of opportunities and now they want to exploit us to the last,” adds Ramírez, a resident of Nuevo Vedado. The problem of emigration from Cuba joins the imbalance between births and deaths, aggravated by the pandemic. In 2020, the number of deaths exceeded the number of births, 105,000 children were born and 111,000 people died, and demographers believe the trend will continue.


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