MONTEVIDEO – A prominent Uruguayan restauranteur promised to grant a monthly stipend for life to 111-year-old Jacinta Silva, the South American country’s oldest person, whose precarious economic situation attracted public attention when it became known that she had no right to a retirement pension or state-provided aid.
Alberto Sena, the owner of the La Balanza restaurant in the eastern city of Maldonado, told EFE on Tuesday that he had visited “Doña Jacinta” the day before at her home in Montevideo and delivered to her family the first payment of the lifelong pension of 10,000 pesos ($334) a month.
“We hope it will go on for a long time,” said Sena about the payment he will make each month to Silva.
Despite having worked all her life, Silva has no right to a retirement pension because she never paid into the social security system, and she has no right to an old-age stipend, since the 14,000 peso ($484) monthly income of her son, with whom she lives, exceeds the threshold up to which one may receive public aid.
At the initiative of two brothers, both lawmakers, Sergio and Edgardo Mier, one with the governing Broad Front and the other with the opposition National Party, Uruguay’s lower house of Parliament sent a missive to the Executive Branch with the aim of ensuring that Silva receives a “discretionary pension.”
A special pension is contemplated in the Uruguayan Constitution as a way to aid prominent individuals faced with difficult economic circumstances, and such pensions have been awarded, for example, to the members of the 1950 World Cup-winning national soccer team and other champion athletes, Edgardo Mier said.
Silva represents many elderly people who have toiled in a variety of rural trades without holding formal employment, he told EFE.
The Mier brothers have a “sentimental connection” with Silva, who worked for years as a cook at a rural school where their mother was the principal.
The executive branch has not responded to the congressional resolution to provide Silva with a pension, but Sergio Mier told EFE that he and his brother heard through “informal” channels that the special pension would not be approved.
Faced with this possibility, a private citizen introduced on the Web site Change.org an initiative to collect signatures and in just one week gathered the support of more than 10,000 people.
Sena told EFE that he learned of the woman’s situation through a online newspaper, after which he decided to get in contact with her family.
The restauranteur announced that he is planning to organize in the city of Maldonado an event to which approximately 500 people over age 100 living in Uruguay are invited, where they will enjoy a specially-served luncheon and during which they will visit tourist attractions in the neighboring coastal city of Punta del Este.
Silva’s daughter Flora Gonzalez, told EFE that the family is very “happy” with the help provided by Sena, which she said will be enough to meet her mother’s needs.