Andres Eloy Mendez, the superintendent of fair prices, announced today that a biometric control system would be deployed to all private and public supermarkets in the country by December 31 of this year.
The system – which relies on fingerprint detection – will prevent consumers from buying products in excess. It is unclear at this time how “excess” is defined, or by whom.
When the system is deployed, each Venezuelan will be required to register their cedula de identidad [akin to a social security number] along with their fingerprint into a database. Ration quotas will be allocated on a weekly basis.
Mendez explained, saying
Having the biometric system up and running along with all the cash registers open in a supermarket means that people will shortly see shorter line ups, greater stock and better food distribution, while we continue to increase the country’s production base.
He also explained that the system was meant to stop hoarding which, along with smuggling, is the greatest cause of the scarcity crisis according to the government. Mendez said the system will mean that:
… no one steals from anyone, and no one takes anything they’re not supposed to take with them to the informal [grey/black] market.
Mendez said that people who show concern over the implementation of the new system are “controlofóbicos” [roughly, “controlophobe” as in fear of being controlled] and anti-government.
Mendez also took a more aggressive tone, taking aim at opposition critics:
They think we’re offended when they call us communists. We’re not offended. Our project is clearly socialist, chavista. In Venezuela, we have a group of lazy writers and some economics who I qualify as having a fear of being controlled. They fear any kind of control, they say that nothing should be controlled.
The government attempted to paint the system in a positive light, saying that it will simply allow it to:
… collect information on what Venezuelans buy, how much they buy, and with what frequency.
U.S. Warns Venezuelan Continues to Grow More Isolated
The U.S. embassy in Caracas issued a travel advisory to Venezuela, warning its citizens to prepare themselves for unexpected difficulties flying out of the country. The difficulties could arise, the statement said, as a result of Venezuela’s $4 billion debt with foreign air lines, a number of which have been progressively cancelling or reducing operations in the country.
So far this year, the number of seats on flights available between the United States and Venezuela has been reduced by more than 50%.
COPEI: 73% Oppose Gas Price Increase
The people know very well the devastating effect [the increase] will have on the economy. [It will cause] a spiral of hyperinflation.
The statement goes on to argue that Venezuela relies on cheap gas prices not only to move people around, but also to transport goods around the country. “Even the smallest increase”, the article claims, will have severely damaging repercussions through every sector of Venezuelan life.
Finally, some pictures from around the country.
People protesting the medical crisis somewhere in Lara state:
A line up to board the Metrocable, a gondola lift system in Caracas. The picture is allegedly from the Mariche station:
An undated picture. The sign reads, “Don’t get sick, there’s no medicine”:
Another undated picture. This one appears to show consumers crowding around the back of a truck carrying goods. They are standing in front of a Farmatodo, a pharmacy chain store: