Passport gridlock

Since Dante Rivas left the SAIME director post, things have gone bad for that State institute.
Dante Rivas – the guy who made the passports run on time. We miss this guy. 

Looks like what once was a problem solved is coming back with a vengeance: getting or renewing a passport is once more becoming an ordeal for ordinary Venezuelans.

Former MP Juan Carlos Dugarte, who has been the head of SAIME (Identification and Migrations Service) since last month, has publicly admitted the recent delays and has pledged to solve the problems by increasing the supply of passports.

One cause behind the recent passport delays is the debt that SAIME now has with the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) to pay for 200,000 special passport booklets, which are made in the Venezuelan Mint (Casa de la Moneda), located in Maracay. But wait, you say, doesn’t the constitution directly bar the Central Bank from directly financing government bodies?! Oh c’mon, we burned through that scruple a number of “millarditos” ago…

Perhaps the bigger problem is an overall deterioration in the quality of SAIME’s service. Many believe this begun with the departure of Dante Rivas last year. To prove it, Chavista blog El Parroquiano launched an investigation and found some differences between then and now: when Rivas was in charge the service was uninterrumpted during lunchtime, but now all work stops between noon and 2 p.m., even if people are waiting in line.

(Btw, what does it say about the SIBCI when a small Chavista blog makes a better journalistic job than any of the State media outlets. It’s not that hard to do, Ernesto!)

Other problem is obtaining a personal appointment to get a passport. In this case, I can judge from experience: When I got my passport a few years ago, the appointment was set in a matter of days thanks to Internet and a text message. A friend of mine was recently told he’d have to wait at least six weeks to get a date to visit his local SAIME office.

When the efficiency of a service is strongly attached to the presence of one person, that tells you something about the robustness of the entire system. Trouble is, there just aren’t enough Dante Rivases to go around inside Chavismo. Nowhere near enough.

[HT: Emiliana]

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  1. And to think my friend was able to get his Venezuelan passport in about a week in Merida about 6 months ago. He also was able to get a Colombian passport in one day.

    In the US it takes about 4 to 6 weeks to get a passport.

    • “In the US it takes about 4 to 6 weeks to get a passport”, but you can pretty much do the whole procedure by mail. No need to wait in line.

      • Or expedite it and have it done in 10 days or less. My wife did that last year for hers: mailed on Monday, received on Friday.

        • Actually you can get a passport in the US next day, if you are in a city with a Passport office. There is an extra fee and you need to show up in person.

    • In the US, that’s considering that it’s a +300m country without a centralized identification document, so it’s not optimal but more understandable.

      Also if you need it sooner you can work it out in a Agency with an appointment, without having to bribe someone or dress in red.

      “Also also”, you can renew by regular mail, no lines and no pain.

        • The only way I every got an expedited passport in Venezuela was by knowing someone on the inside.We are back to square one again.It’s always about who you know, and not about institutions.

          • Oh yes I did that in 2005, travelling to Cumana and even there they look me up with la lista…even pulling strings, it was a nightmare!

  2. Well, that “micro” about the Casa de la Moneda was better than I expected.

    So, you can efficiently get either a passport or a driving licence, but not both. Oh, choices, choices…

    • that “micro” was indeed much better than expected. not a single mention of the revolution, not a single garish image, not even a bit of rojo rojito. amazing.

  3. Thirty days ago I requested an appointment at the Washington DC consulate, and I still have not received an appointment. A week after I submitted the request I emailed the consulate asking when I might receive an appointment. The consulate did respond to the email, but the response can pretty well be summed up as “we will get to you when we get to you”.

  4. Yeah, now we even have more voters after 35 years old than people according to the census – well beyond any believable statistical error

    Is SAIME as good as IPOSTEL? Because now a normal letter from Venezuela to Europe takes 6 months to reach its destination against less than 14 days 20 years ago – 99.9% of the time is spent at Maiquetía as IPOSTEL doesn’t seem to get the money to pay for taking letters abroad.

  5. Chile passport: go once to pay and have photo taken (on the spot, digital camera, no need for passport photo). Go back 9 days later to pick up passport. There’s a line to drop, no line to pick up. But it’s all fascist and neoliberal, as the registro civil is concessioned off to the private sector. So it’s bad.

    • It’s weird how they keep moving him to different posts: from SAIME to the INTTT and now the Enviroment Ministry. For some reason, the powers that be refuse to let him in a post for a long time.

  6. Off topic a bit:

    According to the above link, US Secretary of State John Kerry, amongst other threats, ‘reportedly promised to intensify the ongoing process of revoking US entry visas to Venezuelan officials and businessmen associated with the deceased President Hugo Chavez.’

    (My personal opinion is that it’s all made up rumor. If John Kerry were this forceful, he’d have been elected president.)

    • I wouldn’t trust anything written on Russia Today, it’s nothing more than the publicity arm of Putin. Now, if this story were true Kerry would be doing Venezuelans a favor, as it would cut off one of the favorite property investment destinations for stolen government money!

  7. After two years of waitting I’ve got an appointment to the venezuelan consulate in Miami, 48 hours before the appoitment!, so I took an airplane (more than $700) got there an had a good experience with the whole thing, “will receive your new passport in mid-December” was told.
    December 16th in a phone call “la valija vino pero no trajo su pasaporte, sera en la proxima en Enero”, Chavez:”cierro ese consulado en retaliacion”, y mi pasaporte? “no sabemos si llegara”.
    It didn’t. Called the consulate in Whashington “tiene que hacer sus diligencias con New Orleans”, New Orleans’S one “pida una cita por internet”. Go to the SITME electronic page: “su pasaporte fue entregado a la oficina” no other appoitnment will be granted until mi “new” passport is obsolet!!! Kafka coudn’t make better than this!!

    • So you have no valid passport, and can’t get a new passport until your current passport that you don’t have is no longer valid?? Sounds like Franz Kafka international airport where if your flight has not yet departed it might never arrive without prior notice.

  8. I can only remember what things used to be like when living in Venezuela before the glorious Bolivarian Revolutiion, admittedly an exercise in frustration back then too. Some things just don’t change, I wonder about the futility of getting a passport at all. Recently I was in the market to get a passport extension. Aside from trying to call consulates across the U.S. and no one responding (Houston, Chicago, New York…even found a listing for Miami), not to mention that phone numbers that are listed on the official website are disconnected or if calling first thing in the morning and the voicemail is already full, and no I wasn’t calling on a Monday. In addition, I’ve sent multiple emails, all to no avail, as I have yet to receive a response. I did finally get through to my consulate and was told that unless it’s an emergency, non-electronic passports will not get extensions. The passport in question dates back to the 4th Republic, yet they don’t know that. I also attempted to set up the appointment through SAIME, well over two weeks ago, have yet to hear back. Had done this two years ago for a family member and got a response within a week. Then again, it was an election year.

    The official recommendation for dual nationals is if you have another passport, use the other one?? Meanwhile, I’ve abandoned travelling to Venezuela altogether. I’ll keep you posted when I get my appointment. So can anyone explain how come the airfares to Venezuela are so expensive? I hope this renewed tourism initiative might lower prices….I’ll keep you posted on that too.

    • If you have dual citizenship, you need to present both passports upon entering or leaving Venezuela, or at least just the valid Venezuelan passport. One time I almost couldn’t leave Venezuela because I only had my US passport.

      I have no clue why the difference in price. I just checked in EXPEDIA for MIA-CCS and MIA-BOG and the prices are $1800 and $450, respectively for the same day/direct flights. That’s exactly 4 times more expensive. Even you if get someone in Vzla to buy you the ticket in BsF and then change your $ in the unmentionable market, traveling to CCS will still cost you 1.7 times more compared to flying to BOG.

      • the reason for that distortion is the lettuce market…they have to put overseas the official currency….the purpose is , is the same 400 or 500 to Miami, but just take that into bolivares at unmentionable rate, then those co#azo of bolivares, make the calculation at official rate there you will have those 1500 or 1800 dollars to Miami….I guess airlines as the inefficiency of repatriation, just put the price in a way they could recover the money… i know it sounds weird/stupid…but how else ? it would be difficult to put a price mia-ccs-mia in 500$ and justifying 3 or 4 times that price in Venezuela…

      • Charlie, as for travelling using the non-Venezuelan passport, I’m only quoting what two different consular officials told me….use the “other” passport. Where are these people’s sense of pride. One tries to do the right thing, only to be met by a competing bureacrat at Venezuelan immigration in Maiquetia. As for using one’s US passport that might even come into question as “relations” have become “chilled” as of late.

    • The last time I went to Venzuela was in 2001, and I used my US passport only with no problems, but based only on the advice of family friends since then (never mind the wider advice), I would not be willing to risk entering and trying to leave the country on my US passport only. And I have been in the US so long that my last Venezuela passport expired in the 80s. To get a new one would be a nightmare, never mind that I would also have to get a cedula first, so that’s two nightmares, which effectively makes the country off-limits to me to go to even if personal safety weren’t enough to keep me away. Sheesh! Sigh…..

  9. Airline fares are set for what each market will bear , Venezuela is a richer country than Colombia and people in Venezuela generally dont mind paying more so their fares are higher, Fares from Quito to Miami are also much cheaper than fares from Ccs to Miami, ,despite the flying distance being longer . Also perhaps the Airline has to wait longer to be paid the US Dollars from each fare bought in Venezuela , thats also bound to raise the price .

    • No way! you haven’t been in Miami lately…. Colombians travelling for the weekend in ta Barato dame 2 style? it is annoying… From Cartagena is 300$ ( ok by spirit to FLL) With in 2001 the exchange rate in Colombia was 2400 or 2300 pesos per USD. Now 1700-1900? As a matter of fact flying Ccs- cartagena it would be 800$! If I wanted to go to cartagena from california is the same 800$

    • It is what was said earlier, the unmentionable rate and the length of time to re-patriate $$ are what makes flying to Venezuela so expensive.

      • Exchange rate problems might have something to do with the contrast in fares but the general business rule is that you charge what the market will bear has been arround for a long time . I did a lot of traveling long before the currency problems and noticed how price of identical products would reflect the buying capacity of the average buyer in each country , for example the same book in costa rica or colombia would be priced at a fraction of what it would cost in Venezuela . Even in the same city if you go to an upper scale neighborhood prices for certain commodities will be higher than if you buy them at a poorer neighborhood !! Buying capacity is as important as cost structure for setting up prices !!

        • Things are a little bit more complicated than this. A lot of stuff is cheaper in Europe
          than in Venezuela.
          Then you have this: here in Europe I sometimes see that the price in a supermarket that caters lower middle class for a similar product is NOT lower but actually higher than at a better off place. The poor just live around, you better use a car to do your shopping in the other supermarket…and so it goes.

  10. Another problem going on in consulates are regarding the passports of teenagers that have grown up outside Venezuela. Now one requirement to renew your passport is the cedula, and cedulas cannot be obtained outside Venezuela.
    So because my kids don’t have a cedula and now they are old enough to have/need one, they cannot renew their passports in the consulate, period.
    And….don’t forget that few years ago they made it mandatory to enter Venezuelan territory with the Venezuelan passport when you have dual citizenship.
    So ni lava ni presta la batea.

    • Carolina,

      Me pregunto qué pasaría si alguien en el extranjero escribiese un correo electrónico al embajador de Venezuela en EUA, en Francia, en China con copia abierta a El País, CNN, qué sé yo (otras embajadas latinoamericanas?).

      La persona coloca un gráfico: para entrar a Venezuela un venezolano necesita pasaporte…para tener pasaporte se necesita cédula, etc.

      Imagínate que se le pregunte al embajador cómo se hace, porque los venezolanos necesitan esperar tanto tiempo, por qué no es posible emitir la cédula en el exterior cuando en cualquier otro sitio eso es posible (y esto es un impedimento para votar)

      Creo que hoy en día solo vale la pena comunicarse con el chavismo si tenemos una prueba ante el mundo exterior de cada interacción.

      El resto del mundo no tiene ni idea del tipo de “comunicación” que tenemos con nuestras autoridades. Es peor que durante tiempos comunistas en Europa…solo que ni siquiera tenemos un régimen socialista donde haya seguridad o algo así sino un gobierno militar-feudal absolutamente bananero que hizo de Venezuela el país con la mayor tasa de asesinatos de Suramérica.

      • La asociacion de Venezolanos en Calgary recogio firmas y mando una carta pidiendo que se cambien las condiciones, y que se nos permita tramitar cedulas en el exterior, asi como otros documentos. Inclusive comparandonos con la comunidad colombiana, a la que si se le permite.
        Hasta donde se, no se ha recibido respuesta.
        Ahora, recuerda que tampoco hay consulado en Calgary. Todos los 5 mil venezolanos del oeste de Canada (numero inventado) tenemos que ir a Vancouver, a 1000 kms de distancia, y en el consulado trabajan 8 empleados maximo.

        • Y “trabajan” es un decir. Los conozco. Empleado público venezolano es como empleado soviético al cuadrado.
          Bien que hayan organizado esa carta pero, como dije, lo importante ahora es que sepan que el resto del mundo se entere de lo ridículo que son. De lo contrario, esto no tendrá consecuencias.

    • Carolina, to add to the contradictions, here is a gem excerpted from SAIME :
      NOTE: Read the last line of the excerpt below.

      Venezolanos(as) nacidos(as) en territorio Extranjero, hijos(as) de padre y madre Venezolano(a) por Nacimiento.

      Proveer a los ciudadanos(as) venezolanos(as) nacidos en territorio extranjero, hijos(as) de padre o madre Venezolano(a) por nacimiento. Cédula original por nacimiento, según art.32 de la CNRBV, numeral 2.

      Objeto del Trámite
      Proveer a los ciudadanos(as) venezolanos(as) de un documento de identificación.

      Características de la Población Objetivo
      Venezolanos(as) nacidos en el territorio extranjero, hijos(as) de padre y madre venezolano(a).

      Condición del Usuario
      Tener la edad de nueve (09) años en adelante.

      Copia certificada (original) del Acta de Nacimiento.
      El Acta debe estar expedida por Consulado Venezolano (de haber realizado la presentación ante el Consulado o Embajada venezolana en el país de origen, según artículo 470 del Código Civil) o inserción del Acta de Nacimiento extranjera ante el Registro Civil en Venezuela (de conformidad con el artículo 55 numeral. 1 y art. 84,numeral 3 y 4, de la Ley Orgánica del Registro Civil). Original y dos (2) copias.
      Copia de la cédula de identidad del padre o de la madre.

      Organismo Emisor de los Requisitos Exigidos
      Registro de Identificación Civil.
      Oficina Consular de Venezuela en el País de Nacimiento.

      NOTE: You and I know, every time we ask a consular official if one can get the cedula at their office, what their answer is, “One has to get the cedula in Venezuela”. By the way, save yourself from added frustration by “enlightening” them with the above link that states very clearly that one can obtain one’s cedula at the consular office of one’s place of birth.

      • Carolina,
        La respuesta a todo esto es, no dar cédulas en los consulados un voto menos para los escuálidos. Ni las darán nunca mientras el chavismo sigan en el poder.

        • Recta dicis.

          I still would attack the thugs, over and over again. Send them open letters saying they don’t want to give us IDs (unlike any civilized embassy, I am sure that’s the norm) because they know we will vote against their criminal bosses.

          Of course, we don’t need to say “criminal” in said letter but we should let every embassy around the world know that. In the end, most embassy people have to deal one way or the other with the embassy fauna of each country. Let’s make them feel everybody knows what kind of crappy service they provide to their nationals.

  11. When you go to get an appointment, wear red, red, red, and have a photo of Chavez on your shirt and hat. A Chavez handbag is a nice touch. A Hugo Chavez tattoo will seal the deal. Then tell them Maduro’s office sent you to get a passport so you could accompany Maduro on a trip in two weeks. Then just relax.


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