Maduro Abruptly Shuts Down Regime ID System Venezuelans Need for Everything
( Breitbart )
The socialist regime of Venezuela suddenly took its SAIME identity systems offline on June 17 with no warning or explanation, suspending the issuance of Venezuelan passports and identification documents to its citizens both inside and outside the country.
After more than three weeks of silence and because of social media pressure, the regime decided to wash its hands of the matter and vaguely blamed the outrage on “U.S. sanctions.”
In a statement released the evening of July 12 via Twitter, SAIME — Venezuela’s Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Foreigners — absolved itself of all responsibility by saying the platform’s outage is “due to the perverse and pernicious impact caused by the technological blockade against the country” without giving any explanations to those affected.
The suspension of SAIME’s systems for nearly a month now has severe repercussions for Venezuelan citizens. It essentially leaves those trying to obtain one to travel out of the country stranded. For the more than six million (and counting) members of the Venezuelan diaspora, life without a valid form of identification can be very difficult.
In many cases, Venezuelan citizens abroad have had their salaries withheld, bank accounts disabled, and phone contracts suspended for not having a valid passport. Many are currently at risk of losing their jobs or losing their visa applications, jobs, or even sport or study opportunities if they do not get new passports soon.
The outage has also affected the issuance and renewal of Venezuelan National Identity Cards (known as Cédula de Identidad), the most important piece of documentation for a Venezuelan in the country. Without a valid ID card, which is issued for free, you cannot carry out any sort of legal proceeding — hindering a Venezuelan’s right to identity. According to Venezuelan law, you must provide a valid identification number (or passport in the case of foreigners) to even be able to buy toilet paper.
Contrary to the Maduro regime’s narrative, the news website Primer Informe reported that, according to anonymous sources within SAIME, the real reason for the outage is because the Maduro regime intends to replace the office’s systems with one designed by Ex Clé, an Argentine-based company with deep ties to the Maduro regime and its vice president, Delcy Rodríguez.
Ex Clé, which replaced Smartmatic as the provider of electoral systems, has also provided the Maduro regime with biometric systems used for its Chinese social credit-inspired Fatherland Card system, on the nationalized Banco de Venezuela, and helped design the socialist regime’s Petro scam cryptocurrency. Ex Clé and its directors were sanctioned by the Trump administration for having assisted the Maduro regime in the December 2020 rigged legislative elections. The Venezuelan opposition has accused Ex Clé of having assisted the Maduro regime in the rigging of Venezuelan elections since 2004.
The Maduro regime uses its Petro cryptocurrency to determine any and all legal document fees, including passports, arbitrarily adjusting its value as they see fit. As such, Venezuelans must pay more than $200 to get a new passport. For reference, the current minimum wage is Bs.130 per month, approximately $24.90. Venezuelan private sector wages, estimated to average around $101 per month during the first trimester of 2022, fall short of being able to cover the passport fees.
Paying the fee does not in any way guarantee how long it will take for a Venezuelan passport to be processed and issued, and, in the case of Venezuelans living abroad, when it will be sent to their respective countries of residence. Many documented cases of corruption exist where Venezuelans, out of desperation, have been forced to pay thousands of dollars to officials to get their passports issued, with the ever-present risk of falling victim to unscrupulous scammers.
While obtaining or renewing a Venezuelan passport is a complete nightmare for a Venezuelan citizen, the Maduro regime has had no problem handing thousands of passports to Iranians, Syrians, and other Middle Eastern citizens in the past. Gustavo Vizcaino Gil, SAIME’s current director and one of Maduro’s closest friends, was sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2019 for selling passports to non-Venezuelan citizens for large sums of cash.
It is worth mentioning that whether a Venezuelan citizen chooses to recognize Nicolas Maduro or Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate president is a moot point in the matter of obtaining Venezuelan identity or legal documents. A Venezuelan citizen has to, whether they like it or not, deal with the Maduro regime and suffer through its corrupt bureaucracy and constant outages and delays in order to get their documents. The government of Juan Guaidó, who holds no power in the country whatsoever, does not issue passports or identity documents of any kind.
In light of the difficulties and near impossibility for the growing Venezuelan diaspora to obtain new passports, several governments, such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Colombia, among others, have agreed to recognize expired Venezuelan passports for consular-related affairs — a much-needed palliative measure for Venezuelans living in those countries that have not been able to successfully renew their passports.
In the end, the difficulties in obtaining a passport reminds Venezuelans that finally being able to flee from the socialist regime does not fully free them from the designs and machinations of the socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro and his regime.