Pensions for Senior Citizens: Whose Idea Was It? Fox, Calderón or AMLO

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Last Thursday, former presidents from the PAN party, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón, engaged in a dispute via Twitter over the authorship of the pension program for senior citizens.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador joined the fray on Friday, calling Fox a “hypocrite” and stating he was “not accurate.” He also requested the display of a 2004 video in which, as president, the man from Guanajuato stated: “any pension or support for the elderly is leading our country and our economy to bankruptcy.”

The controversy began on Thursday morning when the National Action Party’s Twitter account posted a video in which Fox Quesada claims:

“Don’t be fooled, it was during my government that the ’70 and over’ senior citizens program started nationwide, the difference is that today it is used for political-electoral purposes.” He also referred to the Popular Insurance, which was indeed created during his government and was replaced by Insabi in this administration, although it also failed.

Former president Felipe Calderón, also from the PAN party, reacted to the video published by PAN, asserting that the “70 and more” program began during his government and that the popular insurance was designed by Julio Frenk, but it was not until 2007, during his term, that it had a real budget to be put into operation.

However, this morning, during his morning press conference, President López Obrador reminded both that the idea of granting an economic benefit to the elderly was his own and began to implement it during his tenure as head of government of the then Federal District.

In November 2022, during a visit to Manzanillo, Colima, the president had already referred to the authorship of the pension program for senior citizens, also alluding to President Vicente Fox.

On that occasion, he said:

“When I decided to give this pension, when I was head of government of Mexico City, we started it and I apologize, but it came from this little head and this heart, we didn’t copy it. Do you know what Fox’s statement was when he was president? He disagreed that what needed to be done was to put the elderly to work,” he recalled.

Indeed, the program was launched by López Obrador in the year 2000, in the first year of his administration at the helm of the then Federal District, when he also applied his policy of republican austerity for the first time.

The then Ministry of Social Development, led by Raquel Sosa, also proposed the implementation of a scholarship program and training for single mothers.

For the elderly, the capital’s administration proposed providing home medical care and free medication delivery to those in need, economic aid of 500 pesos per month to people over 70 years old, as well as food support.

The implementation of the program was not without resistance due to the stance of opposition deputies in the Legislative Assembly, now the Congress of CDMX.

By 2021, some 250,000 senior citizens already had cards to receive 600 pesos per month, the equivalent of half the minimum wage, which implied a total expenditure of 1.062 billion pesos. By 2003, the support reached about 300,000 senior citizens, and the amount was 700 pesos.

As a presidential candidate for 2006, López Obrador promised that if he won, he would apply his program nationwide, but he did not win, and it was Calderón who launched the “70 and more” program during his government.

Even without that name, the senior citizen assistance program continued during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, who expanded coverage by lowering the age of beneficiaries to 65 years.

Source: Proceso