Venezuela, often described as a socialist paradise, is now ordering a new electronic identification system for shoppers in order to guard against purchases of large quantities of food at government-set prices which are then sold in the underground economy.
Identified by critics as a “ration card,” the government system will utilize electronic fingerprint identification to register shoppers at the state-run grocery chains Mercal, Bicententario and PDVAL, which is akin to how the country recognizes Venezuelan voters.
President Nicolas Maduro vows that it would maintain food supplies for 84 percent of the population, but declined to say how it would protect approximately 16 percent of consumers. At the present time, the country is facing immense shortages of cornmeal, sugar, milk and other basic food items as well as other goods that can usually be found easily in any other westernized country.
This isn’t the first time in history that ration cards have been used by a country. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany allocated ration stamps, ration cards were widespread throughout the socialist Romania in the 1980s and ration cards were printed in the Soviet Union and Poland in the 1980s – sometimes even sold to the highest bidder.
Ration cards have also been used before in the United States, Great Britain and elsewhere to buy oil and gas during times when governments have imposed price controls. In most cases, ration cards are allocated during times of war, which is what was seen in the U.S. during World War II.
The Latin American country is suffering from a widespread food scarcity because the government has imposed strict price and production controls in addition to the government facing a cash shortage, despite maintaining one of the most lucrative oil reserves in the world today.
Venezuela has been crippled by intense protests that have caused the death of an estimated 39 people. The government has gone as far as blocking Twitter from showcasing images of protesters rallying. The Venezuelan leader blamed the national demonstrations on the wealthier segments of society, according to an op-ed piece he published in the New York Times.
“The anti-government protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier segments of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that have benefited the vast majority of the people,” Maduro wrote this week.
However, much of the rallies have taken place in middle-class neighborhoods where households are upset over economic decay, rampant crime and government crackdowns on any political opposition that takes place – dissent is indeed silenced.
We reported of how price inflation in Venezuela has topped more than 50 percent.
The question remains: will Sean Penn and the rest of Hollywood still hold Venezuela on a pedestal and claim it is the successful beacon of socialism?