Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Ja: Chavez pulling a Clinton stunt?

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - The government will grant citizenship to approximately 100,000 immigrants in the next few days as the country promotes its new program to issue identification cards, officials said yesterday.

Immigrants who meet the nation's naturalisation requirements will receive new identification cards, said Interior Minister Lucas Rincon.

President Hugo Chavez's government has been issuing new ID cards to naturalised and native-born citizens alike as part of its "Mission Identity" initiative. The program seeks to simplify the often long and complex process of obtaining ID from government offices.

"We have a rapid, effective process," Rincon told the state-run Venpres news agency.

Since the program began several months ago, more than 1 million Venezuelans have received the new ID card, Rincon said.

Among them were about 20,000 immigrants who were granted citizenship in March.

The political opposition says it believes citizenship rights are being given mostly to Chavez supporters, and that they are being given voting rights to boost Chavez's chances of surviving a recall vote on his presidency on August 15.

Chavez allies have denied the allegations. They accuse police forces controlled by opposition-sided mayors and state governors of confiscating the new ID cards.
In the 90s, the Clinton adminstration granted citizenship to thousands who, in the normal course of events, would not have received it because of criminal records either in their native country or here in the U.S. The intent? Bolster the voting rolls for Democrats.

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