A fingerprint scanner system implemented earlier this year to limit the sale of regulated products has been extended to include all products, El Nacional reports. When the system was initially unveiled last August, Minister of Nutrition Carlos Osorio was adamant that it would only restrict the sale of 23 basic necessities.
So far, ten supermarket chains have been networked into the scanner network: PDVAL, Mercal, Bicentenario, Makro, Excelsior Gamma, Unicasa, Plaza’s, Luvebras, Farmatodo and Locatel.
The fingerprint scanners are installed at cash registers in public and private supermarkets around the country. Prior to making the transaction, the customer must have their fingerprint scanned by one of the devices. The scanner confirms the customer’s identity with the fingerprint database at the National Electoral Council (CNE).
Tomas Socias, an analyst at the Camara Venezolana de Alimentos [Venezuelan Chamber of Food], summarized the purpose of the scanners:
They know who bought what how many times, so they can determine who is bachaqueando [buying food to re-sell on the street at a premium].
The Centro de Documentacion y Analisis para los Trabajadores [Centre for Documentation and Analysis for Workers] (CENDAS) calculated that the average price for a regulated item on the street was 683.96% more expensive than the regulated price at which they’re found in supermarkets.
Identity verification through the fingerprint scanner can take anywhere between two to ten minutes, a technical issue that is causing delays and causing friction at cash registers.
On top of this restriction, Venezuelans are also not allowed to shop for regulated products unless the day of the week corresponds with the last number of their national I.D. card.
Guyana, Venezuela to Exchange Ambassadors Again
Maduro met Guyanese President David Granger last night in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office to discuss the Essequibo territorial dispute.
At the end of the meeting, Maduro announced that the two countries would exchange ambassadors again, and that a United Nations commission would arrive in Venezuela in the next few days to assess the situation from the ground.
Maduro called the meeting “complex, tense and difficult”. Just days ago, Granger explained that his country was not at all interested in any kind of solution to the issue, since as far as they are concerned the issue was resolved long ago.
Below, an image of the post-meeting handshake. From left to right: Maduro, Ban Ki-moon, Granger:
Maduro Confirms Timochenko Ride
Days after Venezuelan media discovered that FARC leader Rodrigo “Timochenko” Echeverri traveled to a meeting in Cuba aboard a PDVSA airplane, Maduro confirmed the fact. Yesterday, when asked by Noticias Caracol about the incident, Maduro simply said:
Of course, we moved him there.
When asked to confirm rumours that Timochenko was living in hiding in Venezuela, Maduro said:
He’s where he needs to be.
Colombian Press: Downed Su-30 Was Escorting Timochenko
Noticias RCN, a Colombian press outlet, reported today that an Su-30 jet fighter that crashed in Apure state on September 17 had been on a mission to escort the plane carrying Rodrigo “Timochenko” Echeverri, the head of the FARC.
According to the outlet, the plane carrying Timochenko – the same B-1900 with the YV-2869 registration number that later took him to Cuba – took off form an airfield in La Muralla, Apure state at around 8:00 PM on September 17.
Former Interior Minister Ramon Chacin and Guarico state governor Rodrigo Londoño were also on board. (EDIT: I confused some of the names here. There were two people aboard the airplane: 1) Guarico state governor Ramon Rodriguez Chacin and 2) Timochenko).
At the same time, two Su-30 fighter jets from the Grupo Aereo de Caza Numero 11 took off from the Manuel Rios military base in Guarico state. The two jets were tasked with escorting the plane carrying Timochenko to Havana, Cuba.
For reasons that are still unknown, one of the Su-30 aircraft crashed, killing both pilots. The crash was reported by the other Su-30 at 9:07 PM. At that time, Chacin ordered the trip to Havana aborted, since it was feared at the time that hostile action had brought down the escort airplane.
Timochenko ended up flying to Havana on September 24.
Capriles Wonder Where Grenades Are Coming From
Following a string of five grenade attacks against police buildings this past weekend, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles called on Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez to explain how the armaments had slipped into the hands of civilians.
We have to ask the Minister of Defense how a grenade makes it out onto the streets. Grenades should be exclusively in the hands of the Armed Forces. This gentleman must explain why these grenades were in those peoples’ hands.
He also criticized the disarmament of police services in his state, saying:
Here in Miranda, our police services had 3,000 regulation firearms taken away from them. How can officers defend themselves when someone throws a grenade at them?
Capriles also condemned the attacks, saying:
We have to condemn these types of acts, and we have to demand that institutions like the CICPC [the investigative policy body] and the Attorney General make sure these events don’t go unpunished. We hope that this isn’t part of a political plan to affect the December 6 elections.
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