Pensioners struggling to survive join Chile protests

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Seventy-seven-year-old María Gonzalez is tired of waking up, Monday to Friday, to sell toilet paper in the Chilean capital. Her meager $146 monthly pension puts her below the poverty line, which in Chile is around $222 a month.

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She’s an example of the pension dilemma has helped feed nearly a month of protests against social inequality in Chile.

Many want to overhaul a dictatorship-era private pension system that is widely criticized in a country with a rapidly aging population.

More than 1.2-million Chileans receive a pension that is less than $216 a month, well below the minimum salary of $400. Like Gonzalez, many retirees need to work in the informal sector to make ends meet.