This article strongly contests allegations made by a Reuter’s reporter last November that the Social Benefits Card promoted by the Venezuelan government is “meant to coerce people, to blackmail them economically and politically” and is “an instrument of social control backed by Chinese technology” allegations that this article strongly contests.
Maria Paez Victor
Published on Counter Punch, Dec 11, 2018
The Venezuelan government has promoted a Social Benefits Card to facilitate the distribution of goods and services at a time when the country is beset by a pernicious financial blockade that makes it difficult to access food and medicine.
The sanctions applied against Venezuela by the USA, Canada and European allies are ILLEGAL. They violate the Charter of the UN and the charter of the OAS. But that has not stopped these countries and their corporations – their one desire is to get hold of the country’s oil and gold.
Instead of implementing “austerity” policies, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has, on the contrary, used every means possible to mitigate the impact of this blockade on its people. In order to efficiently distribute benefits, it is necessary – as logic and good sense indicates- to have an accurate idea of how many people need what services and how many access them. Hence the social benefit card, or as it is called there El Carnet de la Patria (literally, the ID of the Homeland).
Any Venezuelan can obtain this card – there are no restrictions of any kind, no one is asked whom they voted for, who they will vote for, what party they belong to, or their opinion of the government. It is a free card to all. It is an instrument to help the public services cater to the people’s needs.
Nevertheless, Reuter’s reporter Angus Berwik has written a damning article in which he -WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER – states that the card is meant to coerce people, to blackmail them economically and politically, an instrument of social control backed by Chinese technology. He says that with the card the government will be able to “punish” citizens. Berwick further states that it is obligatory to get this card, that for example, pensioners have to have this card to get their pensions – all of which is NOT true. The card is absolutely voluntary and 18 million Venezuelan have obtained the card of their own free will, with no coercion or blackmail.
With one stone Berwick maligns not only this means of efficiently distributing needed services, but he also smears the trade relations with China. Venezuela’s public telecommunication corporation CANTV has a trade deal with the Chinese ZTE that is providing a much needed technology transfer to the country.
And who was Berwick’s source for these unfounded, baseless and malicious statements? Anthony Daquin, a former and discredited minister in the Chávez government who now lives in Miami and feeds this type of anti-Venezuelan propaganda to the gullible media that soaks it up without any intent of verification. Daquin’s pet canard is to whip up antagonism to the relations of China and Cuba with Venezuela, which the USA press is more than willing to disseminate.
The social benefits card uses technology to reinforce the social programs, digitalizing the process of distribution of benefits as well as giving the population at large information about how these programs are functioning and serving. This is denounced by the ideological enemies of Venezuela as a dictatorial tool – what dictator in history has wanted to give accurate information to the people on how the government is doing in servicing their needs?
The card has no electoral function; it is simply a tool for proper public service distribution. And because it has been so successful, and so well received by the population, it is maligned and denounced by the enemies of Venezuela, because the social programs of the government of President Maduro have, with accurate information, been able to mitigate the terrible impacts of the financial sanctions against the country.
That is the real reason that the card is being lied about: it is another indication that Venezuela is not buckling under the sanctions and its government is protecting its people to the best of its ability from this illegal and immoral economic war.
The same holds true on the attacks on the basket of subsidized food that is made available twice a month to people: that has put a stop to any idea of famine in the country. It is also maligned, because it has been efficient. Indeed an article disparaging the food basket was actually given a prize by the USA Embassy in Caracas. Other measures to combat the sanctions are equally denounced by people like the appalling Marco Rubio: the Petro (Venezuela’s crypto currency) the relations with China, and the ore and gold mining.
The irony is that in capitalist countries all sorts of information about its citizens, their habits and political preferences is obtained though instruments like Google, Facebook, and marketing ploys. Indeed, the scandal of Cambridge Analytical shows just how that information has been used to distort and influence elections. Yet a modest, absolutely voluntary tool to measure social need and respond to them is hypocritically denounced as dictatorial.
The relations with China have the USA spooked, and so it should. After decades of showing to Latin America that USA’s only interest is interest for itself, China has stepped into that void and is now the main trading partner, not only to socialist Venezuela even to the right wing government of Argentina.
China’s advance in telecommunications, for example, with its new 5G phone technology, has left the USA behind, and that is the reason that the USA is unleashing a war against Chinese telecommunications giants such as ZTE and Huawei under accusations of espionage. Unlike USA corporations, the Chinese ZTE is willing, able and is carrying out technology transfer to Venezuela. For example, the Venezuelan satellites launched by China for Venezuela, now are fully operated by Venezuelans. No Venezuelan professional that I know of has been allowed anywhere near NASA.
The Venezuelan government uses data on size of family, unemployment data, medicine needs and transport information in order to improve the social programs and ensure that the economic war against its people, especially the access to food and medicine, is mitigated.
It bears repeating: the social benefit card is absolutely voluntary and any Venezuelan can have one regardless of any political affiliation or sympathy and not having one does not preclude people from accessing the social services.
The Spanish article – on Mision Verdad, published on Nov 18 2018 – on which this is based: Ataques al Carnet de la Patria: las preocupaciones no tan sinceras de Reuters