Romania's Blind in Protest March
Mar. 28, 2000
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Some 2,000 blind people marched through Romania's capital on Tuesday demanding social security benefits they lost at the beginning of the year.
The government cut the benefits of all disabled people on Jan. 1, depriving them of free medicine, halving their cash benefits to about $20 and scrapping incentives to employers who hired them. Dumitru Boc, a leader of the Blind Persons' Association, said the new law is a hardship for Romania's estimated 70,000 blind people.
``We would like the minister of finance to teach us how to live on our pensions,'' said Luminita Gheorghiu, 44, who says she supports herself and her teen-age daughter on $23 a month.
Also Tuesday, 120 miners from western and central Romania protested in front of government headquarters, urging authorities to create jobs.
The government started a massive program of layoffs in the coal mining industry in 1997, leaving some 110,00 miners unemployed. Unemployment in the Jiu Valley, the biggest coal field in Romania, is 50 percent.