April 10, 2008

Bolivia issues ID cards with Stars of David

The appearance of a Star of David on new national identity cards has alarmed opponents of President Evo Morales, who recall how the symbol was used to brand Jews in Nazi Germany. Tiny six-pointed stars within a tight circle are printed on the back side of some, but not all, recently issued picture IDs in the Santa Cruz region. The mark was present on three cards seen by The Washington Times. "It raises suspicions that the government is identifying individuals or segments of the population along racial, religious or ideological lines" said Carlos Klinsky, a member of Bolivia's parliament from Santa Cruz, where the new ID cards have recently appeared. There is a "fundamentalist influence" of Iran on Bolivia's government, a reference to an influx of Iranian officials connected to numerous joint ventures to develop Bolivia's energy reserves.

Moreover, growing tensions between the Santa Cruz region and the central government have taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting a poor and mostly Indian majority in Bolivia's Andean highlands against European descendents in the energy-rich eastern lowlands.