Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Venezuela Introduces Food ID In Face of Shortages, Black Markets

Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul
Los Angeles Times
April 1, 2014

Grappling with scarcities of sugar, milk, cornmeal and other basic foods, the Venezuelan government Tuesday unveiled a new electronic identification system for shoppers that critics say is a modern version of a ration card. President Nicolas Maduro described it as a means of “safeguarding food sovereignty.”

The system will employ electronic fingerprint IDs similar to those used to identify Venezuelan voters to register shoppers who purchase goods at the state-run grocery chains Mercal, Bicentenario and PDVAL. Announcing the system last month, Maduro said it will assure food supplies for 84% of Venezuelans. He did not speak to the impact on the other 16%.

The purpose of the system, Maduro said, is to guard against the purchase of large quantities of food at cut-rate government prices to be marked up and resold on the black market, where some experts have estimated 40% of all subsidized food ends up.

Read more