If you want a totalitarian regime, you have to take extra steps to control the populace. And that’s just what Venezuela has done with the advent of a biometric ID called Carnet, loosely translated as The Fatherland Card. Carnet is closely related to the dystopian Chinese social credit program and in fact, uses much of the same technology to track and spy on citizens.
And it’s been in the works for a long time.
In April 2008, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dispatched Justice Ministry officials to visit counterparts in the Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen.
Their mission, according to a member of the Venezuela delegation, was to learn the workings of China’s national identity card program…
…Once in Shenzhen, though, the Venezuelans realized a card could do far more than just identify the recipient.
There, at the headquarters of Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp, they learned how China, using smart cards, was developing a system that would help Beijing track social, political, and economic behavior.
Without this card, just to name a few things, Venezuelans cannot access services like healthcare, they can’t purchase food, and they are unable to vote in elections.
So, long story short, to get any desperately needed government aid, you had to get this card.
Without registering for the card, Venezuelans cannot access public healthcare, universities, or much-needed subsidised food provided in the Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción (CLAP) box, a food package containing basic products such as rice, pasta, lentils, corn flour and oil.
Because most of Venezuela’s productive farming and food production industries have been expropriated, nationalised – and thereafter poorly managed or closed – this fertile country is struggling to produce enough food for domestic consumption. As a result, the basic foodstuffs in the CLAP box come from Mexico under a contract run by a company owned by Nicolás Maduro. (source)
To get a “Carnet” you have to provide biometric data – your fingerprint. To ensure you are who you say you are, you may have to scan your fingerprint in order to purchase food, vote, access healthcare, etc.
So what is the reality of living with the Carnet system? I talked to Jose about it.
It seems to have started out with employees who were forced to get the card. Jose writes:
As a former oil worker, we were forced by the corporation to go to a temporary office so they could take a digital picture (I believe I remember my right thumb and index were digitally scanned just like at election time) and print it on a carnet. Oddly, the code of this card had just one or two digits more than my national ID card. We were notified by our supervisors that everyone up to the last member of the personnel was under the obligation to get the Carnet.Those who refused to get it were going to be severely punished. I know this perhaps sounds exaggerated, but it is the truth. Some people were even fired. Without any serious institution to go to, those who were fired had nothing to do to reclaim their rights. This kind of stuff had happened before, indeed. Former candidates used to buy votes from the poor people by providing them with cement blocks, rebar, roofing materials, and some other similar stuff to improve their hutches in the barrios. And this under “democratic” governments, go figure. So people were somewhat used to blackmail.
Of course, it didn’t stop with employees of big corporations.
Soon, people who refused to get the Carnet were denied basic needs.
A lot has been written on this website about the advent of personal microchips and how they might be forced upon people at some point in the not so distant future. Of course, it will be done with our “convenience” in mind and then at some point, it will be nearly impossible to function in society without being chipped. Basically everyone, according to some experts, will get chipped.
And so it is in Venezuela too, that functioning without the Carnet is nearly impossible. And functioning with the Carnet is nearly impossible too unless you toe the Maduro party line.
After the election process, the people holding the carnet was instructed to immediately go to some data collection points called “red points” where they had to register themselves and were asked an entire series of questions about what programs they received, like housing, pensions, medication or feeding. If they voted against Maduro, they would be rejected from those programs. I know this first hand because I was there.
However, things have changed. They will try (perhaps that will change soon once Maduro is no longer in place) only payment means can be done with this carnet. I don’t know because never used it to receive any money, or make some payments, nor even to get some gasoline. I left before this implementation was fully achieved. I do have my carnet, though…as a memory of the infamy of these years.
But used as a psychological tool, its impact has been huge. Of course, China has much more advances in this area. They use it effectively to control political activity and to forbid access to public transportation and even to schools. To provide a little of our Venezuelan style, and that we have some good hackers around there, when they used the carnet in the first voting to choose the fraudulent constituent assembly, Nico was the first to vote…just to receive a screen message that said his carnet had been revoked or did not exist….on national TV, embarrassing him in front of tens of thousands of followers. Quite funny. One of my best memories regarding that stuff indeed.
This is a case study in control.
Years ago, back in 2014, I wrote about this card although, at the time, I didn’t know the name of it. I wrote about the fingerprint registry that was required to buy food so that the Venezuelan government could prevent the “crime” of food “hoarding.” This is when people were really beginning to see that things were going downhill fast in the country.
People were told things would be better for them with the card, and many welcomed it, thinking it would solve the problems of food shortages. I could easily see certain groups of people here in the United States greeting such a move with open arms, blithely oblivious to where it was heading. (I’m talking to you, “AOC” and friends.)
Is it just me or do you see the future unless something changes dramatically?
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