Annoyances of the New Identity Card

Oficina del carné de identidad en Camagüey. (14ymedio)
Identity card office in Camagüey. (14ymedio)

One year since the start of the issuing of new identity cars in Cuba, many recognize the advantages of the modern ID card, but criticize the complex process to get one. In the Camagüey province the manufacture and distribution of the new identify card started last May, but delays in delivering them and long lines continue to characterize their arrival in this region.

To learn about the details of the process,  14ymedio approached the ID card office this Tuesday, where people interested in applying for the new polycarbonate card had gathered since the early morning hours. The applicant must bring one or several stamp/seals with a total value of 25 Cuban pesos. Fingerprints are taken on the premises and the applicant is photographed.

Among those waiting to update their identity card was Gabriel Villafaña Bosa, whose previous document had deteriorated through use and the passing of years. This Camagüeyan believes that the new format is “stronger and more durable,” so that the number of times it needs to be replaced because of damage will be reduced. However, to get it he had to overcome a long wait.

Yosbani Martinez commented, “I still don’t have the new card because everyone in the world is here.” Living near the office, the young man says that he has passed by the place at four in the morning, “and the line goes to the corner.”

Trying to reduce the avalanche of requests, the authorities have warned that the document can only be replaced in case of loss, damage, change of address or reaching the age of majority. In statements in the official press, several officials have insisted that it is not obligatory to possess the new card, because the two prior formats continue to be valid.

The dissatisfaction with the long wait even made the pages of the local newspaper  Adelante this last September whenthe journalist Yasselys Perez Chaos commented to a friend, “after waiting five days in nighttime lines I was allowed to enter the office, where a single unhappy looking official was able to issue only three to twelve cards a day.”

The delays mean serious problems for those who have lost their identification. “Imagine a police officer stops me and asks for the card. When I tell him I don’t have it they take me to the station for fun,” said Villa Faña Bosa. The lack of the document has even affected his collection of remittances. “What do I do if my dad sends me money? How can I collect it at Western Union without the card,” the young man asks, standing in the middle of a long line.

Others resist losing patience despite the obstacles. This is the case with Adalberto Perez Arteago, who says, “It’s the first card I have, because I spent 25 years in prison and didn’t participate in the prior change of format.” The man also feels that the design of the new document, “looks better.”

Among the changes in the document is that the identity number is embossed, there are security features, the content is printed in invisible ink, the bars are machine readable, and there is a ghost image on the back.

The most repeated complaints also address the continued interruptions in the service of delivering the new cards, for various reasons. This Tuesday the building was being fumigated, which paralyzed the process in the only office authorized to issue them in the Camagüey capital. A couple waiting for the process so they could get married decided to return another day, earlier. “It’s already five in the afternoon and look at the number of people who are here. We lost an entire day on this,” the woman pointed out.

As of last June, 380,645 new-format identify cards had been issued in the entire country; that covers 4% of the population over age 16. In Camagüey the numbers are more modest; with a population of 717,686 adults, only 5,746 had obtained the document by that date, some 0.8% of the local population.

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