Caracas, June 9th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the suspension on Saturday of a program that called for the rationing of basic products in Zulia state.
The program, which limited the purchase of certain goods, including some foods and toiletries, was discussed earlier this week for the cities of Maracaibo and San Francisco with the intention of reducing food waste and preventing contraband.
Estimates indicate that Zulian citizens consume only 50 of the 60 million tons of food that arrive in the state each month due to contrabandists, who take advantage of regulated prices to profit from the sale of products across the western border with Colombia.
To prevent these contrabandists from making purchases at multiple grocery stores throughout the day, the state government program had called for cashiers to make use of data recorded on customers’ identification cards, a sort of consumption “chip.”
In a speech during a campaign for the rational use of electricity, Maduro firmly rejected the idea.
“That is not a solution: not a chip, not a ticket,” he said. “The solution is to produce, and for Venezuelan families to become aware of their consumption.”
Maduro added that the program “does not reflect our economic beliefs – let that be clear to everyone. I firmly reject it, and if anyone is currently applying these measures, then they should stop immediately.”
Leopoldo López, head of the conservative opposition party Voluntad Popular, decried the measures as resembling “the Cuban way” of governance and claimed that they collapsed due to their own weight.
“The government of Nicolás Maduro continues to deepen the destruction of our economy, and there will be an organized and active people to defend their rights against these abuses and blunders,” he said.
Zulia governor Francisco Areas Cárdenas indicated on his Twitter account that he was “completely in agreement” with Maduro, and that he will only implement restrictions on contrabandists.
“Various sectors have invented the idea that we are going to apply a chip to the purchase of products,” he told the newspaper Panorama, based in Maracaibo. “I deny that information completely. What we are going to pursue is the contrabandists, monitoring those who go to five supermarkets on the same day … We’re going to locate who the contrabandists are, and we’re going to apply measures to stop this situation.”
Associated Press reported on 4 June that “Food Rationing” would begin in Venezuela.