Boondoggle Chronicles

Sadly, there were no security cameras in the smoky backroom where the comisión for this contract was negotiated…

Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres has revealed his latest plan to fight crime: Deploying a lot of security cameras. A lot.

Thanks to a brand new deal with CEIEC, a company owned by our Chinese overlords, the government will put at least 30,000 security cameras all around Venezuela in order to collect information in real time.

Rodríguez Torres informed that the plan will start with a pilot project in Petare (Eastern Caracas) next month and that the overall objective of the so-called SIMA project is to “…generate a situation of security in the country”. I think the word he was trying to use was actually “sensation”.

Of course, this plan brings many questions that likely will remain unanswered: first, there are already plenty of surveillance cameras installed in our major cities by local governments in recent years (along with a large number of private CCTV systems as well) What will happen to those? It wouldn’t be easier to just coordinate efforts between the different police forces? You know, eficiencia o nada?

And then other questions arise about this proposed system: Why exactly 30,000 cameras? How the authorities reached that conclusion? Did they make a study? Why there wasn’t a public bidding process? How the cameras will be distributed? Who will oversee them? Will those cameras resist blackouts and brownouts? How they will affect the right to privacy?

This announcement (as part of the relaunch of the A Toda Vida security plan), wants to pushback the recent failures of the Secure Fatherland plan. But the government knows it has an uphill battle, as public opinion puts the blame of crime mostly on its shoulders.

But what this new “Big Brother”-type of surveillance confirms is that the current government has quite a thing for Orwell’s 1984, in more ways than one.

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