Venezuela and the Shopping CLAP
August 4, 2017
Attention. As of August 7th… We will only be able
to see our products to our customers
who have an active Homeland card.
Read all about it, read all about it, Granma still hasn’t published the news, but we have all known it for a long time. The CLAP, that magnificent Cuban Rations Book wannabe, has just gone hand in hand with the Homeland card.
I hadn’t mentioned the Homeland card before because, if I have to tell you the truth, my personal life has been in a shambles. For those people who like soap operas, I can tell them that while Venezuela has been sinking into one of the worst inflation in history, my relationship with my partner (for whom I came to this beautiful country), came to an end like the oil boom and its years of good prices. And with my relationship, the roof over my head was also taken away in a short space of time.
So these past two months, while millions of starving and anxious or forced Venezuelans line up in long lines to obtain this mysterious card, I ran all over Caracas with my cat under my arm and several backpacks on the other, in search of a rental place where we could both stay. Of course, I wasn’t going to leave my cat to fend for herself. But, renting a room was the only more or less affordable option for those of us who only live off of our salaries; and almost nobody wanted to share their home with a 4 pawed animal.
That’s the main reason why I used to watch, from afar and in shock, the way that some squares in Caracas would fill with old people and women with children, for days at a time, in search of the promised paradise. Maduro’s card is something like that, because at this point in time in this country, we have all come to understand that the Homeland is Maduro… or Maduro is the Homeland.
The lost paradise has risen up with the promise that the Government can only know about the needs of every Venezuelan, and solve them too, with this card. For those who are given consent to obtain this card, they are asked a series of questions like their education level, who they live with, whether they have their own home, job, and, of course, what political party they are a member of.
One of the main rumors surrounding this document was its connection with the CLAP (Local Committees for Supply and Production). I have heard complaints from ordinary people on several occasions, because those responsible for handing out bags or boxes of food that the CLAP sell, warn them that these products won’t be sold to people who don’t present their homeland card.
Let me remind you that this bag or box costs between 10 and 20,000 Bolivars and includes various food items (imported from Mexico) when the cost (of just one of these items) on the normal market can reach 10,000 Bolivars. That’s why the majority of people would be very happy to receive one of these bags. But, it doesn’t work that way. The CLAP aren’t for everyone.
Going back to the Homeland card, whose creation reeks of absolute control more than anything else. What does it do with the millions of people who go voluntarily to hand over their details, giving the government the opportunity to control their lives? Ignorance, political naivety, intolerance, local astuteness, need?
Just before the Constituent Assembly elections, a 100,000 Bolivar subsidy per month was given to single mothers via this card. It was also via this card, that they started giving jobs to young people without “work”. There are lots of promises. People’s needs are doubling. But, manipulation and blackmailing with this small piece of plastic is tripling both of these.
We are already beginning to see its results. The photo was taken in a state which borders Caracas.