When I moved to Madrid 2 years ago, I failed to swap my Venezuelan driver’s license for a Spanish one which, by the way, is very expensive. After much procrastination, I made an appointment and, waiting for the day to arrive, realized I couldn’t find my Venezuelan license. I searched my whole apartment, but nope, gone, poof.

Like any Venezuelan, I knew that losing an official document is the beginning of a tragic saga to get it back, so I when I traveled to Caracas recently, my first order of business was to ask a gestor how we could do this painlessly.

“You must print it yourself” he said.

I remember thinking he was nuts, but, Venezuela is the land of endless possibility for crazy. This is how creative our government is:

First, you must get appointment through a hidden corner of the Instituto Nacional de Transporte Terrestre‘s (INTT) website. After answering a few questions you’ll be directed to the INTT office of your choice.

A PDF attachment with an article from the Land Transportation Law, and this story on how this new driver’s license is super secure…

Once there, you’re greeted by Chavez’ eyes on every employee’s navy blue vest. The guy at the door directed me to a line of chairs neatly set each beside the other, messy with distracted people. The chats were usual banter: people unsure about the process, or how they couldn’t find certain food in the supermarket. I even heard a story about how a malandro left a guy without papers and the victim spent the past 3 days getting everything back.

20 minutes after my arrival, those of us standing outside the building were instructed to walk in, to find more lines of metal chairs. Waiting, I realized only 2 of the 8 “ticket windows” actually had agents in them. Sadly unsurprising.

When it was my turn, I handed in my printed form, paid the standard fee of BsF 6,300 —$630 at the make-believe rate, about 40 cents in real life— and was asked to sit down for a picture. I was then told to wait 40 minutes after which I would receive an e-mail with my license.

An e-mail? Are you crazy? It was even crazier to hear.

Turns out the e-mail did arrive. It had a PDF attachment with an article from the Land Transportation Law, and this story on how this new driver’s license is super secure, easy to get, cheap, cute, magical, you can imagine. The colorful front and back of the license were at the bottom, inside a dotted line. Instructions were large and clear: Print in color on white paper, and laminate.

And that’s it.

It looks like any cédula, only less convincing, and printed front and back. Tropical mierda at its finest.

If I ever lose it again, I’ll just open my e-mail and click “print.” It makes you wonder how this state-of-the-art technology might be used: Need a truckload of ID’s for voting or setting up a fake company? Do not fear, the printer is here!

But those are concerns for another time. Right now? Venezuela: 1, First World: 0.

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