Venezuela to Fingerprint Grocery Shoppers

Maduro says move will foil smugglers

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 22, 2014 2:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – Venezuelan grocery shoppers won't be able to buy food without a fingerprint scan under tough new anti-smuggling measures unveiled by President Nicolas Maduro. Subsidies and price controls keep food in Venezuela a lot cheaper than in neighboring countries and Maduro says the new biometric system will be an "antifraud blessing" that will stop smugglers buying too much of any one item and ease the country's food shortages, GlobalPost finds.

Maduro says smuggling diverts nearly half the country's food, but critics say he needs to fix Venezuela's economy instead of fingerprinting shoppers. "This is nothing less than the Cuban rationing book," an opposition lawmaker said. "The government can't presume to tell a family what it's going to eat." Another thing in short supply in Venezuela: Flights to and from other countries. A dispute over billions of dollars in cash stuck in the country because of currency controls has caused many airlines to reduce or completely cut flights to Venezuela, and the US Embassy has warned that travelers might find themselves stuck, the AP reports.

People buy government-subsidized food at a state-run market in Caracas.
People buy government-subsidized food at a state-run market in Caracas.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)
A customer looks for meat at a supermarket in Caracas.
A customer looks for meat at a supermarket in Caracas.   (AP Photo/Howard Yanes)
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