After a week of mixed messages, questions over the nature of the fingerprint rationing system linger.
Chief among them: is the system voluntary or mandatory? On Tuesday, Maduro said that representative from private sector supermarkets had been told that the system was voluntary – that is, each individual supermarket could decide on its own whether or not to install the scanners. However, last week, Maduro said that he had ordered every single private and public supermarket in the country to install the scanners by the end of the year.
Another question is, what exactly will the system regulate, and how? The closest thing to an answer appears to be a statement from the Superintendent for Fair Prices, Andres Eloy Mendez, who said:
The system will generate an alert when exuberant purchases outside of the standard of a Venezuelan family are made. That consumer will be blocked from the system until they demonstrate [why they need that much food].
Mendez did not explain what constitute an “exuberant purchase”, what a “standard Venezuelan family” looks like or how much of a each regulated product they buy, or how exactly consumers will be expected to demonstrate why they need the food they’re buying.
First Witness Takes Stand in Lopez Trial
Leopoldo Lopez’s trial began in earnest today as the first state witness against the jailed opposition leader took the stand. The first – along with the other 4 state witnesses – is a member of the CICPC, the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas [Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Body], a law enforcement agency.
According to Mildred Manrique, a journalist present in the audience, the officer:
… did not accuse anyone. He just talked about what he saw on February 12.
Lopez – along with four students – were arrested and are being tried on a string of charges stemming from the protests of February 12, 2014.
Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, was at the courthouse in Caracas this morning:
Maria Corina Machado, another opposition leader, was also present: