CARACAS – Hundreds of Venezuelan retirees protested on Wednesday against a measure put in place by President Nicolas Maduro to deliver pension payments through the use of the QR-coded Homeland Card, demanding that they be able to use the traditional national identity card.
The president of the Federation of Retirees and Pensioners, Emilio Lozada, told reporters that “the measure implemented by Maduro is criminal because it violates our human rights,” as many retirees do not have the Homeland Card and “their pension is their only income.”
Pensions are now starting to be paid through the “digital wallet” accessed through the Homeland Card Web site which, according to Lozada, “creates uncertainty and confusion among those who do not know much about technology.”
“Not all of us know how to use the online transfer system, which is why we want pensions to be paid in cash,” Lozada said.
The Homeland Card was first announced by the Maduro administration last year, when he urged Venezuelans to register to obtain it, as pensions and other payments would be accessed with the card, allowing people to keep track of the social benefits they receive.
The opposition has accused the government of using the Homeland Card as a means of social control and of potential vote-buying.
Media outlets have said that the IVSS pension agency has yet to define how it will make pension payments.
The decision to start making payments through the Homeland Card is part of a series of measures the Maduro administration has put in place this month, including raising the minimum wage around 3,500 percent and carrying out a massive devaluation of the currency.