Photo: José Díaz

Nicolás Maduro’s regime is used to disarray and to having people standing in line. However, the vehicle census 2018 called for August 3 and extended until August 12 (later extended again to August 17) was a new political disappointment due to the poor attendance they got for the campaign.

Unlike the long lines back in 2017 when the government launched the carnet de la patria, this time the organizers received a line of people equivalent to a block and a half during the first three hours of the census set in the Bolívar Square in Caracas. Once the whole deal started, after 11:00 a.m., attendance declined little by little, until it was so poor that it wasn’t even broadcast on official channels.

Photo: José Díaz

The call

The first call for the vehicle census was made on July 29 during the PSUV Congress. A few days later, Maduro announced that the process would be open between August 3 and 5. However, other regime spokespeople such as Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez and Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez said that the process would start on August 1.

The registry opened on August 1 through the webpage www.patria.org.ve. The other dates were set for the street campaign, and citizens were called to all Bolívar squares in the country’s 335 cities. Is this a regime strategy to boost street presence?

Is this a regime strategy to boost street presence?

Maduro called all vehicle owners to register for the census: motorcycles, individual vehicles, public transport units and vehicles belonging to private companies or ministries. The only means of transportation left out of the census were those that don’t rely on fuel, such as bicycles and skateboards, unsuited for the hidden interests of the census: the control of fuel sales.

In Táchira, people can officially buy fuel only through an electronic chip since 2010. Those who don’t have the chip must buy gas on the black market.

In 2016, the government implemented the sale of food through the Local Committees of Supply and Production (CLAP); and in 2017 they created the carnet de la patria with the promise that the document, which contains a QR code, could give its holders access to houses, vehicles and medicines. Now, the carnet is used as blackmail to purchase gasoline. The census is meant to intensify the methods of control they’ve been applying for the past two years.

Transport protests

The census, announced as a panacea in mandatory broadcasts, was scheduled to start a 8:00 a.m. Nevertheless, it occurred amidst protests condemning the measure.

Bus drivers led the charge: “We’ve gone through all kinds of censuses. We don’t understand why we need another registry. We’ve registered before the National Land Transport Institute (INTT); before Fontur, communal councils, mayor’s offices. We don’t believe in censuses anymore. A census won’t solve the crisis, it won’t bring tires and batteries back,” said José Luis Trocel, spokesman for the Inter-Union Transport Command.

We’ve gone through all kinds of censuses. We don’t understand why we need another registry.

They mobilized and organized the few buses that are still operational in Caracas as protest, driving in a caravan across the city to Transport Ministry headquarters in Francisco de Miranda Av., where they were ignored. They parked and blocked the avenue until 11:30 a.m.

Disinformation campaign

Meanwhile, in Bolívar Square in downtown Caracas, the process started three hours late. Workers were cleaning the area, people from the Somos Venezuela movement raised tents, organized chairs and tables. Soldiers blocked access to the square. Disinformation and disarray reigned during the first few hours.

Photo: José Díaz

Attendants had several questions. Some thought that the census would allow them to get a vehicle to work as taxi drivers, others hoped to recover vehicles stolen from them over 15 years ago.

Despite the attempts made by Maduro, Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez and Transport Minister Hipólito Abreu to promote the census “as a measure that’s part of a new national energy policy,” saying that people “who don’t register won’t have access to subsidized fuel,” the call was confusing and irrelevant for most Venezuelans.

“I came to see what this is about,” said José Jaimes, who arrived at about 10:00 a.m. to Bolívar Square in Caracas. “I brought my car’s documents and my driver’s clearance certificate.”

Jaimes was accompanied by Adriana Uzcátegui, a lawyer, who didn’t know much about the process, its reasons or benefits either. “They say this is to get tires, lubricant and batteries. I don’t know if it’s about gasoline. But we still came to support President Maduro.”

Many attendants openly showed their support for the government party. Actually, a woman pulled out her PSUV ID and said loudly said: “I brought all of these people, they’re from my sector and they’re chavistas.”

Myth vs. reality

“We have to use gasoline rationally and fairly, always fairly, and this will necessarily cause changes in vehicle transport and the carnet de la patria is the answer, the census is the answer,” said Maduro in late July.

“We have to use gasoline rationally and fairly… the census is the answer.”

“How much gas do we lose to the Caribbean? How much do we lose to Colombia? Tons, because in Venezuela hydrocarbons and gasoline are free. We pay to fill their tanks,” he pointed out.

In Venezuela, the litre of 91-octane and 95-octane gasoline costs Bs. 1 and Bs. 6 respectively. But a single egg costs Bs. 200,000 due to hyperinflation, which the IMF estimates will reach 1,000,000% by the end of 2018.

It isn’t just that the price is ridiculous, it’s that there isn’t any production. Iván Freites, from the Venezuelan Central Federation of Oil Workers, has been denouncing for months that the country’s refining capacity is almost shut down, due to lack of investment and because the plants were dismantled. He told El Nacional that the country has no capacity to produce even a litre of gasoline. “The government is trading crude for gasoline. Venezuela currently imports fuel,” he said.

According to Freites’s figures, 40% of the country’s service stations are out of order, “which means that gasoline doesn’t have the same demand as in 2016, when people consumed a total of 260,000 barrels per day. Now it’s down to 150,000 barrels per day, mainly because much of the automotive fleet is paralyzed.”

A census for no reason

“I don’t know if this is for fuel, but it’s better if they’re going to sell it with regulated prices. Besides, we’ve never run out of gasoline here,” said Rafael Díaz, while standing in line to register.

The census ended on August 5, and with the alleged assassination attempt against Nicolás Maduro on August 4, the process was ignored. 700,000 people registered according to Transport Minister Hipólito Abreu, which is a poor number for the government, used to inflate the figures.

In December, they said that 16 million people registered for the carnet de la patria and the document was a requisite for the census, so they also opened a carnet registration campaign. However, drivers don’t buy their stories despite the threats and the promise of subsidized gas.

No census will solve the transport crisis.

“No census will solve the transport crisis. All vehicles are registered in the INTT here, it’s easy to know how many motorcycles, buses and trucks there are. What they want to do is reinforce social control through the carnet de la patria. They do it with food and medicines, only fuel was left,” said bus driver Francisco Escalona.

Desperate measures

In addition to the economic measures announced for August, the government extended the automotive census twice. During a mandatory broadcast, Maduro threatened that those who don’t go to the census “will have to pay gasoline at international prices.”

He ratified the announcement on Monday 13, when he once again said that in order to benefit from the gasoline subsidy, citizens will have to have the carnet de la patria. This is his plan to end fuel smuggling, an illegal practice that only takes place in the cities along the Venezuelan border, even with the National Guard’s support.

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48 COMMENTS

  1. So they are instituting at least a two-price system for gasoline: those with the carnet and those without. So there will be a black market, and smuggling, and epic economic distortions just as with the multiple foreign exchange rates. They never learn, do they?

    • there’s already a multi million dollars business around smuggling gasoline, spearheaded by people such as godgiven’s hair. That’s smuggling out of the country, however.

  2. “we’ve never run out of gasoline here,” said Rafael Díaz.

    “Hold my cerveza,” said Maduro.

  3. Yes…the gasoline and I also think the “government” (I use the term very loosely) may start appropriating the more desirable vehicles such as SUVs pickup trucks etc from the owners for state use as needed.

  4. I think one of the drives of this was forcing those who still haven’t gotten a fatherland card (like myself) to get one to increase social control.

    • Carupano and MRubio,

      Other than your sense of dignity, what is the downside of getting yourselves one of those Maduro Express cards? If the only way to buy food or gas is by using your Maduro Express card, then why not? Try living in the USA without a social security number or government ID.

      • I’ve already got a cedula which is a national ID card. I don’t need no stinkin’ carnet de la patria and will not get one. My woman feels the same. We talked about it the other day and she said aside from buying gasoline by the 55 gallon drum (which we do now) she’ll haul our maid with her on buying trips if it comes to needing someone with a Maduro Express Gold Card in order to fill up.

        Personally, I think like everything else here, the new system (whatever it’s designed to be) will be so full of holes that it won’t be a problem to get around. I’m much more concerned at the moment about finding decent engine oil, spare parts, and tires than gasoline.

        PS: My woman is retired school administrator. They told her the other day that to collect her pension she had to have the carnet. She told them to shove it.

        • I like your woman. Fuck them and their carnet.
          Motherfuckers won’t be able to charge shit, gas stations have had no system for years, what you pay the worker is what he earns as a salary. How the fuck are they going to keep track of carnets, how are they going to charge more or less if there are no bills to pay for it. It’s going to be a shitshow

      • as MRubio said, we already got national ID cards (cedulas) which is actually in the constitution and isn’t used to control dádivas.

        And you can buy food without it, heck, most food is bought and sold at informal markets, though it is required in some places to get the crap bag, though seemingly not in every place, amusingly it seems now they requires the ones “benefiting” from it the CLAP to return the bags and boxes the food comes in, amazing stuff.

  5. Agreed carupano.

    Hey, any of you guy see the video of Maria Corina Machado from last night? Dayum. Powerful stuff. I’m guessing she’ll be the next one we hear about getting a visit from SEBIN.

  6. Carupano, I absolutely agree with you about increased social control I just think they also think that an inventory list of vehicles in the country will be helpful going forward. If they need parts no problem . Just take a vehicle and strip it for needed parts. Need a new car for a police department? No problem. Just take one from a citizen and so on and so forth.

    The carnet de la patria is starting to remind me of the Mark of the Beast. The time may soon come when a citizen will need the card to buy anything (ANYTHING) or sell anything(ANYTHING) including food, clothing, real estate, cars etc. Sure hope it doesn’t come to that.

  7. The basic truth of the matter is that with the collapse of Pdvsa refineries and the govts oil revenue it can no longer supply the countrys gasoline demand thru the import of gasoline components and is in desperate need of funds to just meet the basic necessities (despite the fact that the number of vehicles still operational has declined tremendously as anyone driving in todays caracas can attest to) . This is all a farse to justify a price increase to reduce the demand of gasoline (it can no longer provide) and replace an export income which it no longer has……., the alternative is to start rationing the supply of gasoline and that would be such a loss of face that they have to find an alternate way of disguising their predicament. They know that registration will be small and that most people that have the card dont own cars and are reliant on public transportation , the real problem will come as prices go up to cover the increased cost of both public transportation and consumer goods in a period of hyperinflation and general economic paralysis and people find themselves in a worse situation than the terrible one they have already been suffering this last year.

    • Accurate assessment Bill.

      And talking about “public” transportation, one thing I noted on my trip to Punta de Mata yesterday was that there are now people everywhere hitching rides…..on the highways, in town, you name it. My woman commented on the number of young mothers with infants standing in the sun or rain waiting to catch a ride with someone, anyone. At the peaje, I saw one young mother hand her infant to guy as she climbed down off a cattle truck that was being pulled over.

    • Bill Bass and MRubio,
      Do most people understand this? Do they understand that the days of free gas and unlimited are coming to an end? Do they know that this gas is actually imported and paid for “at international prices”? Or do they think that the gas should be free because it is pulled out of the ground and refined magically for free in Venezuela?

      Just wondering, because based on the tenor of Aporreans (echoed by R Ramirez), it is an affront to Chavez to charge people for gasoline.

      • Last time I told a local that this regime was buying gasoline from the United States, among others, importing it in other words, he didn’t want to believe me. “But we’ve got the largest oil reserves in the world”, is the standard response. Not a friggin Wednesday night show of Godgiven Hair goes by without him claiming that the enemy wants Venezuela’s natural resources “because we’ve got the largest in the world”.

        And when one is informed that the gasoline is being purchased at international prices and is practically being given away here, that’s generally viewed as a sign that “the government is on the side of the people”. They don’t see the waste of national treasure.

        They don’t connect the dots.

        And because most don’t own vehicles they don’t care about the condition of the roads and that the government does little to repair them. They don’t understand that when the roads are shit, it damages the vehicles that deliver food and medicine to them and that they have to pay more for said products because of those damages. In the really rural areas they don’t understand why the trucks no longer come at all.

        It’s maddening. Far too many Venezuelans have no clue how wealth is created and maintained. Said it before, will say it again. They believe there really is such a thing as a free lunch.

        Now, one thing that the Chavista leadership does really well is organize their voters. On Sunday, my woman heard two women at the bodega talking about the voter registration going on at the school next door. We knew nothing about it. No one from the opposition had told us anything about it.

        She ran over there to register so she’d not have to make the trip to Maturin to vote. While there, she listened to the precinct leader read out a list of names and phone numbers of locals who have been voting in Maturin, Punta de Mata, Caracas, etc and told her crew to contact every single one of them and get them down there to register.

        Years ago, her first husband was politically-connected to ADECO’s and she said the organization that the Chavistas show today reminds her of how the ADECO’s ran their operation.

        • Venezuelan don’t get it. I have been trying to persuade my own relatives and old colleagues of the mistake they are making. A sister in law asked me 15 years ago why I was so pessimistic. She said then, we reached the bottom of the well. And I told: not yet.

          They all beloved their welfare system with everything for free. Now they get what they deserve and unfortunately it is simply too late to resolve anything in the short term.

          Will they be back? I remain pessimistic. My answer to my clients will continue to be ”do not get there”. Many in this blog hate me for saying that. The truth hurts.

          I propose we prepare the children and they will do same going forward, etc.

        • No surprise in the sudden voter drive. AD pulled out of the MUD and went back to their roots.

          No surprise the tactics are the same. Quite a few chavistas are just adecos in red shirts.

      • Feb and Mar 2018 were big months.

        For extra credit, what percentage of these purchases ended up in Colombia?

        • For extra credit, what percentage of these purchases ended up in Colombia?
          Here is an estimate from 2015. Venezuelan gasoline and goods still sold in Colombia despite crackdown.

          Selling smuggled Venezuelan gas is big business in Colombia. An estimated 4.2 million gallons per day, or 16% of all gasoline produced in Venezuelan refineries, is sold as contraband in Colombia, northern Brazil and Caribbean island nations, according to Venezuelan sources.

          That would be an estimated 100,000 BBL/D of smuggled gasoline in 2015. Probably less now, due to lower refinery production,

  8. Thanks Bill & MRubio…. All you guys on the inside are the best source of info for all of us on the outside looking in. You guys get the “street level” view that the rest of us don’t get. A big thank you to all you guys!

  9. At an average of 6 – 8 Kilometers per liter (car), if you get 50 liters per month, for example, that will allow you to drive 300 – 400 Kilometers… If you drive a bus, with gasoline engine, it may get 3 – 4 Kilometers per liter, so you only get 150 – 200 Kilometers …

  10. So, if you use up your “allotment” that you buy on the card then for the rest of the month you must pay full retail price for gas?

  11. Cuba early on forced a registry of all private property-even shoeshine boys registered their shine boxes; within 2 years, all private property had been expropriated, “for the good of the people”–including the shoe shine boxes. In a country where only a fraction of the previous number of vehicles is able to operate (only 10% of private public transport buses) due to lack of/prohibitively-expensive spare parts/tires/batteries/oil/etc., any private person registering his vehicle is risking it being requisitioned for use by the needy Pueblo (to be paid in Petros, of course). As for registering for the Carnet De La Patria, one person’s wife, being a Chavista public school administrator, was forced to do so, and, soon after, she and her (private security firm owner) husband were getting phone calls to their home, mentioning details of the vehicles they owned (declared on the Carnet required info), threatening to kidnap them, or their 2 teenage daughters, if they didn’t pay up. They moved their daughters to relatives, moved out temporarily of their apartment, and traced the calls to a Pran in an Anzoategui prison. Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread….

    • There’s the reason. Your info is given/sold to Prans.

      And here I get pissed off when the bank hands out my cell phone number to telemarketers.

    • Cuba has incredibly high import tariffs on cars. I don’t remember the figures but it may be as much or more than the cost of the car. Impossible for anyone to afford unless their kid is on a Major League Baseball team in the US.
      The BBc show “Top Gear” did a show from Cuba. They had brought 3 used cars with them and as is customary would have left them for some of the people that were their hosts. Matt LeBlanc explained that the cars weren’t left because of the duties the people would have had to pay. They shipped them back to the UK instead.

  12. In another location: with the amount of money I spend filling up my car, I could fill up 50,000 cars in Venezuela. So now it’s a matter of life and death. More of the latter.

    I bet they continue doing ”la hora loca” every Friday night.

    Adios los cupos y las raspadas de tarjetas.

  13. I have what seems like an obvious question.
    Aren’t the vehicles in Venezuela already registered? The cars have license plates on them.
    In the US you go and register your car and you receive one or two plates depending on the state you live in.
    In the UK the plate stays with the car. Annual payment of the vehicle fees is required to drive on the road.
    It seems like the regime would already have a list of the registered vehicles.
    If the car doesn’t run, most likely the owner wouldn’t register it.

    • Indeed there is, but it’s not about simple record keeping as I said before.

      -Some chavistas will argue the fatherland card was used to distribute toys and deposit money but, to distribute toys you only need an ID card, to deposit money you only need an ID card and a bank account.

      -Others will say it was used to distributed (a pyrrhic amount of) medicines, when one would think the state owned pharmacies would be for that (surprise I think most if not all are already closed down).

      -Or to add the “youth” to the plan chamba juvenil as if you need a fatherland card to fucking work.

      It doesn’t matter if the fatherland card is used to obtain information that was already available to the government, because the objective isn’t record keeping, it’s not about the record it is about the record utilization and the old data must be stored in a way in which it is a pain to search and use for your purposes which is why they are basically retaking it except now registered in the system made by the chinese (as yes, the patriotic FATHERLAND card was made in china).

      • Carupano, indeed China is the master of personal life control. Fortunately the government in Venezuela doesn’t have the financial capability to implement the full nine yards.

        I’ve never seen that card. Does it have a chip? Can someone hack it like many do with credit cards? It’s clear this will eventually replace the Cédula de Identidad. Soon you won’t be able to obtain a passport without the “Carnét de la Patria”.

        I anticipate that things will be really ugly next week. If I were you living in such dire situation I would enroll. I hate to abdicate. Yesterday night I saw this journalist Nitu Perez all exhuberant of ilimited arrogance and money
        https://youtu.be/ymDFafyMdiE

        So what do you think? I also saw a report of El Viñedo/La Viña Venezuelan whose only concern was filling up the tank before this Friday. All well educated and dressed with brand clothes. The cars ultra-expensive even to US levels. What’s going on?

        Thanks

  14. BTW

    There was a bridge collapse in the port of Genova, Italy killing and mauling many drivers. The Morandi Bridge.

    You might say what is this fool talking about.

    Look hard at that bridge architecture design. It looks alike “el puente sobre el lago”. The reason is, they both bridges were built by the same company and architect. The bridge in Italy is just 50 yr old but maintained Italian way, so it reduced its life span of 50 years.

    Will it happen to the “puente sobre el lago”? They were both built in the same times and with same kind quality and materials. Fortunately the one over the Maracaibo lake will have much less traffic and might last a few more years.

  15. We don’t know yet what they mean by “international price”, some countries like Spain for example the taxes are like 60% of the total price.

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