Speaking during a televised address that aired on the state-owned VTV network last night, Maduro confirmed suspicions that the controversial carnet de la patria (Motherland I.D.) would be used to pay gas subsidies to its holders, neglecting Venezuelans who refuse to sign up for the party identification card.
Last Saturday, Maduro announced a census of every motor vehicle in the country under the pretext that the effort was necessary to ensure the “rational use” of gas, which Venezuelans enjoy at the cheapest prices on the planet. A litre of gas costs Bs. 6, which at the current black market rate (Bs. 3,602,412.1 / USD) equals approximately $0.000001.
Following the census announcement, some observers speculated that one of the regime’s goals with the measure would be to control access to gas via the carnet de la patria, a piece of regime-issued identification that critics consider to be tantamount to a PSUV membership card.
During his speech yesterday, Maduro said that the census and the carnet gas subsidy were part of a larger project to “correct the serious problems in the country at their root”, and that “there is no force on this planet” that would stop the measures from fixing the economic crisis.
Neither Maduro nor any other regime official has yet explained exactly why the motor vehicle census is necessary. In his address on VTV yesterday, Maduro said that the census would act as “a base for a higher level of transport”, but it is not exactly clear what that means.
Maduro also suggested that the census was necessary to determine “what time of gasoline” vehicles use, but it is not clear why this determination cannot be made more simply by measuring how much of each type of gasoline is sold in the country’s gas stations during any given period of time.
On the possibility that some Venezuelans might refuse to participate in the census because they refuse to sign up for a carnet de la patria, Maduro said that it would be “unfortunate” for them because they would be “left out” of the initiative.
Since its launch early last year, the carnet de la patria has been widely condemned as a naked attempt by the ruling PSUV force compliance with regime initiatives in exchange for promises of food, home, and now gas subsidies.
Electrical Workers’ Union Refutes Gov’t Blackout Story
Yesterday, after a blackout paralyzed 80% of Caracas for approximately two hours, Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez tweeted that the power failure had bee the result of an act of sabotage at the Santa Teresa substation. In the tweet, Motta Dominguez shared images showing a small bundle of cables that he claims had been cut at the site.
Today, Angel Navas, the president of the Federación de Trabajadores del Sector Eléctrico [Federation of Electrical Sector Workers] (FATRAELEC), refuted that version of events, and instead said that the blackout was the result of a chronic lack of investment in infrastructure and repairs.
In an interview with Union Radio, Navas explained that the lack of maintenance on infrastructure applies specially to a major transmission line that helps to power the capital. He said:
The corridor where the transmission line goes hasn’t been cleaned in two years. The lines’ supports have not been maintained…. and that, little by little, starts to get messy.
Navas explained that the lack of maintenance on the line corridor, when combined with the heavy rains typical in the region at this time, wreaks havoc on the transmission towers.
Authorities Block Farmers’ March
National Guard soldiers prevented a group of protesting farmers from reaching the Miraflores Palace in western Caracas, which is the seat of executive power in Venezuela.
Soldiers blocked the farmers’ path on the Urdaneta avenue.
Social media users reported that aside from the farmers’ protest, there was a second mass of protesters nearby, but it is not clear exactly who they were or what they were protesting. They did not appear to be with the farmers.
Below, an image of rows of National Guard soldiers blocking the farmers’ path:
Below, on the right, another image of the protest:
It is possible that the protesting farmers are aligned with the regime. In the short clip below, a group of protesting farmers walk with a banner that contains an anti-imperialist message:
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