Former Argentinian presidents receive large pensions while many retirees live in poverty
The former president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, received more than 12 million pesos gross in December for her retirement and privilege pension (about US$ 10,480 in the parallel market); former president Mauricio Macri received 5.7 million pesos (about US$ 4,978 in the parallel market); and the president who lasted a week in office in the midst of the 2001 crisis, Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, received 5.5 million pesos (US$ 4,803 in the parallel market), according to data provided to CNN by the National Administration of Social Security (Anses) through a request for access to public information.
In contrast, official figures show that 68.3% of retirees and pensioners (4.7 million people) received up to a minimum salary added to a bonus granted at the discretion of the Government in December. Without considering these bonds, the minimum asset amounts to 105,713 pesos (US$ 92 at the parallel exchange rate). This discrepancy between the income of former presidents and ordinary retirees is the reason why the monthly lifetime allowances earned by those in power are known as “privilege retirements.”
The Government of Javier Milei proposed eliminating privilege retirements in the so-called failed “omnibus law.”
For former President Fernández, the more than 12 million gross pesos that she received in December are made up of the sum of her retirement and her pension for being the widow of former President Néstor Kirchner. The difference between the “privileged” and the “non-privileged” is also large when considering the maximum amount that can be collected for a retirement. According to Anses, the maximum has a value of 711,345.76 pesos (about US$650 at the unofficial price). That is, Fernández de Kirchner’s retirement is 9 times larger than what the retiree with the highest assets earns, and Macri’s is 8 times larger, like Rodríguez Saá’s.
CNN contacted the spokespersons for Fernández de Kirchner, Macri, and Rodríguez Saá to find out if they felt “privileged” with these lifetime assignments, but none of them responded. This payment is a common practice in several countries.
According to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec), 13.2% of those over 65 years of age in Argentina are poor, meaning their income does not cover the expenses of the basic basket. This urgency contrasts with the situation of those former presidents who receive the highest lifetime allowances.
The assets, deposits, and money that Fernández de Kirchner received at the end of 2023 amount to 249,421,220.32 pesos (US$ 217,835), according to her latest sworn statement presented to the Anti-Corruption Office. In the case of Macri, that figure was 273,282,463.40 pesos (US $238,674) when he left the presidency in 2019. Rodriguez Saá received 52,185,303.87 (US $45,576) in 2022 when he was a senator.
The spotlight has also been turned on other former officials who continue to receive high pensions. According to the list included in the Anses response, the widow of former president Carlos Menem, Zulema Yoma, receives a lifetime allowance, as well as multiple other former officials.
“It seems disrespectful to society that we have that type of salary,” former President Eduardo Duhalde told CNN. He claimed to receive a retirement without any of the benefits of the lifetime allowances law. His name is not included in the list provided to CNN by Anses. Other former presidents who held office in the 2001 crisis such as Ramón Puerta or Eduardo Camaño, unlike Rodríguez Saá, do not receive this benefit because they decided not to process it. The same applies to former vice president Carlos Ruckauf.
The law regarding “privilege retirements and pensions” was passed to provide lifeline allowances for former presidents, former vice presidents, former judges, and other former officials. In the event of death, the benefit will be extended to the widow or widower, in conjunction with unmarried sons and daughters up to 18 years of age. Said age limit will not apply if unmarried sons and daughters are incapable of working.
However, the controversial nature of these lifetime pensions is evident. Many have criticized the large disparity between the income received by former presidents and ordinary retirees, with some arguing that it is an issue of social injustice, given the high poverty rates among the elderly in Argentina.