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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  1. Exactly, why print the darn thing when you can just download the information onto your smart phone like baseball and football tickets?

  2. *facepalm*

    I mean, getting people in the First World to believe that the cédula is an official ID was hard enough. Now… I wouldn’t look forward to renting a car abroad (or -God forbid- do the license conversion!) with the new DIY licencia.

    I’m looking forward to the DIY passports now.

    Sad to think that the new licencia was actually a step forward compared to the old grey one…

    • Many years ago, I had a “Provisional” Venezuelan Driver’s license. I never did get the permanent one. I went back to the Transit Office repeatedly for a year and they never had “la materia”. But, the provisional license had no expiration date, so no problem…

      Right up until I went to rent a car outside… You wouldn’t believe the dance I had to do to convince them that it really was OK. Finally, the manager just relented because even he had heard about how things are in Venezuela.

      Several years after that, I decided to try again. The Transit Office had been moved and appeared to have had a facelift. So, when I got there, I showed them the provisional license. They said they couldn’t recognize it because they had lost the entire previous database, and I would have to start all over again, including not only the written test, but a practical test! The examiner asked me why I was getting my license for the first time at my age. I assured him that when I got my first license he wasn’t even a glimmer in his mother’s eye yet. When I explained what had happened, he got it. We took one turn around the building and he gave me a pass.

      I guess I had better make sure I don’t lose the one I have. It at least looks legitimate for when I am outside.

  3. The document has to be validated either way. This just destroy the idiotic lie or actual need for “material”.

    The important part of a document exist in a database, or in reference to an office. If it can be validated, and linked to you, it’s good enough.

  4. Just imagine how often you could get to vote with legitimate documents and not having to rig elections. Heck, just cast your vote from the comfort of your home…

  5. From a government that refuses to add a zero to the banknotes so that people don’t have to pay for cash you can expect anything. I think it would be a great idea to publish again a 3 or 4 years old caracas chronicles post with lots of youtube movies shot in Venezuela. That one explained very well the idiosyncrasy of Venezuelan people. Using that mindset as a basis is very useful if one wants to explain what’s going on now.

  6. Actually I’m surprised to see that this is used for the Licenses, because one of the relatively recent chavista extortions based on documents now is that they are charging people with insane amounts of cash to get the cédula de identidad (The ID card) with the excuse of, guess it, “There is no material to print your cédula, unless you donate a collaboration of say, some hundreds of thousands over here…” (Just as it happened with passports), so that’s why I’ve seen a noticeable amount of people coming to my workplace to comission a copy of their cédulas with their expiration date updated for a couple of years.

    And it’s pretty easy actually once one gets the hang of it, scan the ID on a good resolution, open photoshop, tweak the desired characters, and finally print it in best quality, one gets a pretty damn convincing thingie there, although it doesn’t imitate the security paper with the tiny color fibers (Unless they get hold of one scrap of that paper tho), it’s indistinguishable from an actual one for most people.

    • If you scan the back side and print it onto white paper, the printout is indistiguishable from real security paper. You need a fair degree of accuracy to print double sided onto the same piece, but it’s not too hard. And since the backside does not need to vary, it can be used on many others.

      • That depends, since from like five or six years ago, they started adding an additional number in the back of the ID cards, and it’s through that number that the saime is tracking the IDs, rendering the original ID number completely useless as it could be duplicated now.

        Still, one can print the two sides of the ID card in the same paper page, then cut and arrange them and plasticize the whole thing, and it looks very convincing.

        In fact, when I renewed my ID two years ago, every person whose ID number was 21 million or higher was asked to bring their original certificate of birth, or else they didn’t get to renew their ID, it doesn’t take a genius to link the dots and realize that from 21 million started the multi-ID numbers that have been used for electoral frauds since a long time ago in Venezuela.

  7. Okay, what about if you have to hire a car abroad? I can even imagine the guy at the rental car company having a massive laugh if you handle that.

    • Can’t you get what’s called an International Driver’s Licensed, issued within your home country, but not from the government?

      It’s been decades for me, but you used to be able to contact the AAA in the U.S., they would validate your license for whichever state, and then issue an International, which was recognized throughout the world.

      The bigger problem with renting abroad as a Venezuelan is your credit card.

      • Yes, you can get an International Divers License in Touring Club de Venezuela, but you need a valid Venezuelan License, pay around 35.000 bs. It is valid for one year only, though.

      • The international driver license is just a little booklet with the license info in several languages and said info validated by an independent organization like AAA in the US. It isn’t even issued by the official government agency. You still need your real license for it to work.

  8. I got my visit tale stolen! Maybe I got into a Groundhog day from another license seeker! But, the important thing is that the security technology is the QR Code, something you can make online or with any cheap coding software.
    It’s important to recall that the building’s entry wall has a very well mounted picture of Mortadela dressed with a presidential band, basically giving you the hint that everything wrong you find has a common origin, and that people in that building, either voting or asking cadivi favors, played with and elected him.

    Oh, the humanity!

  9. I knew it wouldn’t be long… the web has gotten wind of this farce, and the imaginative and talented are having a field day with “Venezuelan Identity Cards”.

    My favorite so far is the Twin Towers Guy.

  10. Interesting that they put your blood type, allergies, medical conditions, and emergency contact details on your DL. We don’t do that here in California. And I’m not aware of any other state in the US that does that.

    That’s good for first responders to know what they can and can’t treat you with,

    • Yes, the funny thing is that you will never be asked fro that info. So they did match blood type, but other details are either fake or made up. I never submitted the other info


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