Minimum Wage

Andrés Felipe Solano


In 2007, Andrés Felipe Solano decided to give up his comfortable life as a relatively well-off journalist and live for six months under a false identity as a worker in the city of Medellín Colombia. One day in March, he left Bogotá with just three changes of clothes, shampoo, soap and deodorant and rented a room in Medellín in a working class neighbourhood with a violent past before getting a job at a textile factory.

He stuck religiously to the rules: no-one could know his true identity or what he was doing, he couldn't ask anyone for help of any kind, and he had to live only on what he was paid: the minimum wage of 260 dollars a month. So, overnight he was plunged into a world where money was so scarce that he would have to decide between buying razors and cold medicine.

He worked standing up for ten hours a day with only a fifteen-minute lunch break, hankering after simple but inaccessible treats such as churros or a trip in a taxi. Half a year later, on his return to Bogotá, harrowed by an experience that he thought would just be a way of finding a good story, he was a changed man.

Read an excerpt from the book Salario Mínimo (Minimum Wage).


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