Did Simón Bolívar Like Police States?

I wonder if all of the people who hailed the presence of a chávista government in Venezuela–you know the type–will have any opprobrium at all to spare for the Venezuelan government in light of this story. Probably not, intellectual honesty doesn’t seem to be a virtue as far as chávistas–whether they are found inside or outside of Venezuela–are concerned:

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has a new idea for how to fight his country’s shortages of basic goods: keep electronic records of what everyone is buying.

Maduro announced plans to launch what he’s calling a secure supply card (link in Spanish), which will allow Venezuelans to sign up and receive benefits, such as discounted prices, at state-owned supermarkets. “Like at other supermarkets around the world, it will provide a set of initiatives to motivate and reward everyone who participates in the supply mission program,” Maduro announced to a crowd of supporters over the weekend.

According to Maduro, the intent is to help minimize the impact of inevitable price increases at supermarkets, and reduce the amount of opportunistic goods smuggling (link in Spanish). Basic goods shortages have made it  either impossible or expensive to come by things like toilet paper, sugar, flour, and eggs. As of January, Venezuelans couldn’t find more than a quarter of the things they were looking for, according to the country’s national statistics bureau. And inflation is through the roof. While exact details of how the card will work aren’t known, the understanding is that it will function as a subsidy mechanism by using promotions and a reward system.

But according to the National User and Consumer Alliance (Anauco), a local non-profit consumer watchdog, the card scheme is a ploy to increase oversight of Venezuelans’ spending. The card, according to Anauco, is essentially a ration card, only one called by a different name. The true purpose is ”rationing purchases by announcing that they cannot be made on a daily basis,” Luis Vicente Leon, president of local think-tank Datanálisis, told El Universal (link in Spanish).

So, what we glean from this story is that when it comes to the state of Venezuela’s economy, things are nothing short of awful, and that when it comes to the state of civil liberties in Venezuela . . . well . . . things are nothing short of awful. Orwell would weep were he alive. As for living chávistas, they’ll just keep denying reality.

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