Mérida, February 21st 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – According to the Venezuelan government, its identity and passport organisation, SAIME, has dismantled fourteen groups dedicated to falsifying documents, and arrested 270 citizens for extorting SAIME clients.
The director of SAIME (Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration) Dante Rivas, speaking on private television channel Televen said that of the 270 citizens, 191 were SAIME workers.
The arrests are part of the Plan War against Corruption, Rivas said. SAIME has been carrying out the plan since 2009.
One recent example of such arrests given by Rivas was of a gang on Margarita Island, made up of three SAIME workers and two International Police (Interpol) officers who “extorted foreign citizens who were in the country illegally. They visited them in their homes and demanded large amounts of money in order to not deport them,” Rivas said.
He added that Venezuela did not have a policy of deporting foreigners, except when they are committing crimes in the country.
Rivas also pointed out that SAIME had simplified what were previously very complicated processes for obtaining identification and visas, and has also acquired high-level technology and security measures, in order to reduce the number of clients, client waiting time, and identity crimes. Also, previously many applications could only be made in the head office in Caracas, but these can now be made at the various offices around the country.
Mobile SAIME “tents” also travel around the country to suburbs, rural areas, schools, communal councils, hospitals and prisons.
Rivas urged clients to personally carry out their requests and avoid paying huge fees to third parties to carry them out for them, to not permit extortion, and to denounce any illegal situations.
Corruption is identified by Venezuelans as one of the main problems with the current, and previous governments.
According to SAIME, it has provided identification cards to 436,573 people so far this year, and conducted 240,287 passport application appointments. In 2010, 4,325,063 people received their identification cards, and 1,228,155 had passport application appointments. According to SAIME, this is a record.
Venezuelan citizens and foreigners in Venezuela can denounce corruption, extortion, and identity crimes to firstname.lastname@example.org and 0800-SAIME-00