The Pension Campaign in Uruguay
Global Action on Aging's NGO Partnership in Action
In 1995, Global Action on Aging published a Special Research Report entitled "The World Bank and the Attack on Pensions and Income Security in the Global South." The report analyzed World Bank pension policy and Bank pressure on countries worldwide to reduce or eliminate public pension programs.
Roberto Bissio, Executive Director of the Insituto del Tercer Mundo (Institute for the Third World), received a copy in the summer of 1995. The Institute is the Latin American affiliate of Third World Network and Bissio is one of the best-known Southern NGO leaders.
Bissio had the report translated into Spanish, added his own prologue on the pension struggle in Uruguay, and published it as an eighty-page booklet in a printing of 6,000 copies. The booklet was co-published with the International Union of Food Workers and it was supported by six major unions in Uruguay, especially the large and powerful bank workers union. The unions all bought copies for their members. Retiree groups also supported the initiative.
The Institute launched the booklet at a Round Table in Montevideo on October 11, 1995, where representatives of unions and older persons spoke. Also participating was the Legal Advisor to the workers' representative on the board of the national Social Security Bank. Publication was timed to coincide with a new government law on social security. Bissio valued the report because it helped people see beyond their own government and their own country. "They were already opposed to pension-cutting," he says, "but the booklet showed them that they were part of a struggle all over Latin America and all over the world."
The booklet has been well received and has had brisk sales in Uruguay, where there have been two national referenda on pension reforms in the past five years. Requests for copies have come from other countries as well. Bissio has sent copies to people throughout Latin America, participating in networks with the Institute, including the Latin American and Caribbean NGO Network on Multilateral Development Banks. Other editions may have been published.
Global Action on Aging looks forward to working further with the Instituto del Tercer Mundo. The Institute is a leader in a worldwide program called "Social Watch," which will monitor how governments are fulfilling commitments made at the United Nations World Summit for Social Development at Copenhagen in March, 1995. Bissio is interested in getting further information on pensions and in having Global Aging serve as a resource on worldwide pension policy.
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