Political analyst Prof John La Guerre fears that a national identification card bearing the name of a Venezuelan national which sparked an investigation and claims of voter padding could have implications for the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
La Guerre made the comment one day after the EBC stated that it had completed a thorough search of its database and can assure that no T&T national identification card was ever issued to Juan-Luis Marcano Navarro, nor does his name exist on its database.
The ID card also carries the same number as Tunapuna resident Temika Rane Smart.
The controversy surrounding the ID card surfaced on social media on Sunday as the State gets ready to roll out an amnesty policy to allow Venezuelan migrants to live and work in T&T for one year.
National Security Minister Stuart Young has requested an urgent investigation in the matter to determine the facts.
Yesterday, La Guerre said if the fake ID was now the subject of a probe, the EBC would now have to implement regulations with its registration and renewal process to ensure all IDs are authentic.
He said the news of the false ID can erode the EBC’s confidence.
“In any electoral process, the major problem is confidence. If people begin to become uneasy and lose confidence in EBC’s rules and documentation, then they would lose faith in the system as we go into the local government elections due this year.”
Given the history of our elections over the years, one which has been tainted with voter padding, La Guerre said the EBC would have to rebuild its trust with the voting population.
If this is a bogus ID, with many others circulating, La Guerre said, the EBC would have to call on first time applicants or those seeking an ID renewal to produce supportive documents such as a pay slip, job letter, evidence of a Board of Inland Revenue and NIS numbers along with the required birth paper, passport or driver’s permit.
“For too long it has been an automatic process with the renewal of ID cards. I think the EBC needs to look at their security system. There should be a method to not only put in checks and balances but provisions for corroborative evidence. This fake ID card is definitely disturbing and could have implications for them.”
He said it would be normal for EBC employees to make slip-ups which he described as bureaucratic bungling.
“But I don’t think it’s identity theft in this case.”
For two individuals to have the same national identification number, La Guerre said: “It is clear that forgery is taking place.”
He said it was not difficult for Venezuelans or anyone to produce a fake ID.
Criminologist Darius Figueira said one possible outcome of this incident “points to an organised crime enterprise where people are cloning ID cards.”
Such individuals have the capabilities to penetrate all government agencies that issue identities.
In order to clone a card, Figueira said, “it’s hardly likely it was an inside job. So this is an organised crime that is selling bogus identifications to Venezuelans for a high price. Venezuelans are highly skilled in forgery.”
The fact that Venezuelans are before our courts for credit card fraud, Figueira said, speaks volumes.
He said apart from them coming here illegally, Venezuelans can also purchase packages for false IDs, job letters, passports, payslips, transport, accommodation and being a home owner.
“These bogus IDs are offered to people who have money. It is normally paid in US dollars. To get a false ID or passport a Venezuelan can pay a minimum of US$5,000.....the US dollar is a highly sought commodity in Venezuela.”
Figueira said Venezuelans are buying fake Dominican Republic IDs which they use to get into the US mainland.
He said the EBC may have to review its entire operational procedure to ramp up its security database.
“They may also have to upgrade the card to prevent people from copying it.”
A text message left on EBC’s communications manager Dominic Hinds’ cellphone yesterday was not returned.