The Brutal Truth About the CARNET: The Venezuelan Biometric ID Also Known as the Fatherland Card

Friday, February 22, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Daisy Luther and J. G. Martinez D.
February 22, 2019

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.

Using vast databases to store information gathered with the card’s use, a government could monitor everything from a citizen’s personal finances to medical history and voting activity…

…10 years after the Shenzhen trip, Venezuela is rolling out a new, smart-card ID known as the “carnet de la patria,” or “fatherland card.”

…And ZTE, whose role in the fatherland project is detailed here for the first time, is at the heart of the program.

As part of a $70 million government effort to bolster “national security,” Venezuela last year hired ZTE to build a fatherland database and create a mobile payment system for use with the card, according to contracts reviewed by Reuters.

A team of ZTE employees is now embedded in a special unit within Cantv, the Venezuelan state telecommunications company that manages the database, according to four current and former Cantv employees. (source)

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.

What exactly is the Carnet?

Although the media has only been talking about it being launched in 2017, there have been predecessors to the current ID, which you’ll hear about in a moment.

Although it existed before, it was rolled out with fanfare in 2017.

The National Radio of Venezuela (Radio Nacional de Venezuela, RNV), the government’s public radio station, reports that in January 2017, the government of Venezuela launched the homeland card, a [translation] “tool” to “broaden the policies to protect the people, increase efficiency and efficacy, and increase the deployment capacity of the national government” (RNV [2017]). The Ministry of People’s Power for Communications and Information (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Comunicación y la Información, MIPPCI) indicates that the homeland card is a [translation] “‘means for social justice and inclusion that connects the people directly with their President; without red tape, bureaucracy, intermediaries and corruption’” (source)

So, long story short, to get any desperately needed government aid, you had to get this card.

One of its most powerful tools is the Carnet de la Patria (Homeland Card). This is an identity card ostensibly meant to improve the efficiency of government social programmes by linking everyone who requests and receives services and handouts to their government records. But, in reality, the card’s main function is to keep a tight grip on the state’s 2.8memployees and also the millions of people seeking government assistance, many of whose livelihoods depend on it.

Because 15m people are registered for the Homeland Card, it’s an effective means of controlling the poor population and ensuring their obedience.

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)

The Rest…HERE

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