Cuba: Living on a $10 pension
Under Cuba's pension system, the retirement age for women is 60 and 65 for men. Meager salaries mean monthly pensions amount to less than $10 (€9). For many Cubans it's a daily struggle to survive.
Frugal way of life
Angel Julio Soza Catillo, 89, in front of the house he has lived in his entire life in the San Lazaro district, a poor area in Cienfuegos on Cuba's southern coast. He spent 40 years working in the construction industry and now lives on a 200 pesos (€6.66/$7.55) pension. Asked whether he lacks anything, he responds: "Only a television to watch the beautiful girls."
Raised on rations
All Cubans have a "libreta," or ration book entitling them to buy a monthly supply of food at steep prices. Rationing became even more severe in May due to a tighter US embargo and the loss of aid from Venezuela.
Raul Bouza sits in front of his downtown Havana house that collapsed during a hurricane three years ago. His pension is 240 pesos. Every month he has to pay a licence of 500 pesos to be allowed to sell utilities like batteries and light bulbs in an attempt to make more than his pension. His brother sends him remittances ($100 every three months) from Miami.
Eking out a living
86-year-old Antonio Loreno Lozana lives with one of his sons on one of the tourist trails leading to the tobacco valleys around Viñales where they run a small farm. In addition too his 200 pesos pension, they make around $150 dollar a month from the agricultural products they sell to the state and coffee they sell to tourists.
Part of society
Ebaristo Día Día is 85-years old and works in a print shop in Havana where he folds boxes. With his job he makes an extra 300 pesos and his boss provides him with breakfast and lunch. He says he's happy with his job and that it makes him feel useful and part of society.
Give a little bit
Aida Guerreros Blanco is 92 and has to live on 120 pesos. She lives in the center of Bayamo in eastern Cuba and from her doorstep she approaches tourists who are lost and need directions in the hope they will give her a small donation.
Sweet & sour
Miquel Calzada, 90, sits in front of his house in the central Cuban city of Trinidad where he sells sweets and cookies to complement his $10 pension.
Working the market
Mario Día is 80-years old and works as an intermediary in the real estate and property market in Havana. If he manages to sell a house, he gets 10% of the going rate. If he manages to find somebody to swap houses, he gets a donation. In 2018 he sold two houses that provided him with about $1,500 (€1,300) in extra income.
86-year old Lidia Herredia Grinom lives with her stepdaughter who is sick and requires daily attention. Her husband died 15 years ago. In order to make ends meet she sells cigarettes and plastic bags on a busy street leading to the bus terminal in Santiago de Cuba every afternoon.
Staying on the job
66-year-old Rodolfo Aguilar Gonzalez still works as a water inspector in the eastern city of Holguín. Although he could have retired at 65 he enjoys the dynamics of working life and being able to interact with others. There is a law in Cuba that allows people to apply for a less work-intensive job after retirement, but he's afraid of missing out and prefers to continue in his old job.