First Hugo Chavez silenced the independent media by fining newspapers, arresting journalists and ultimately shutting down the main independent Television station. Now he’s silencing unapproved thought in the schools of Venezuela, rewriting the textbooks to reflect his version of history, writing marxism into the curriculum at every level and threatening private schools with closure if they don’t conform to state approved educational guidelines.
Last year Chavez’ Minister of Education, Aristobulo Isturiz laid the groundwork for the new ‘bolivarian’ education program to be imposed in Venezuela when he announced: “Teachers should be the first soldiers of the revolution…No Director of a public school shall have his, her job validated unless an evaluation is made, so that we are certain that they know what is the type of republic we want.”
Having already consolidated control over Venezuela’s public schools and universities, including bringing in Cuban indoctrination experts to consult and injecting marxism into the curriculum even in the medical schools, Chavez is now assaulting the last bastion of academic independence, the private secondary schools to which business and intellectual leaders send their kids. Objecting that the private schools teach ‘capitalism’ and ‘consumerism’, Chavez has declared that if these schools do not allow inspectors to keep them compliant with the socialist agenda of the “new Bolivarian educational system,” the schools will be shut down.
Zulay Campos of the Bolivarian State Academic Commission which will carry out inspections to make sure that private schools comply with the government’s curriculum stated: “We must train socially minded people to help the community, and that’s why the revolution’s socialist program is being implemented…If they attack us because we’re indoctrinating, well yes, we’re doing it, because those capitalist ideas that our young people have — and that have done so much damage to our people — must be eliminated.”
So while these private schools will remain nominally independent, they will use the new text books being authored by the government and will teach the version of history and the political ideology of the chavista regime or they will be shut down. For the kids of Venezuela there will be no truth except that fabricated by the government, not thoughts except those approved by the state and no escape unless they leave the country. The superior schools which used to turn out the nation’s leaders will now turn out indoctrinated robots fanatically loyal to the regime and its leader for life, Hugo Chavez.
Conscious of the negative reaction both inside and outside Venezuela to his efforts to turn education into indoctrination, Chavez has defended his vision of education for Venezuela: “I’m calling on parents to be conscious of our kids. Let’s instill in them values. Be careful with the television programs. There are a lot of bad influences, the internet, child pornography, consumerism, to name a few.” He went on to make a call to action, saying “Let’s rescue our traditions and forget about the stupid Spiderman and Batman movies. That is ideology!”
Gosh it all sounds so good. He’s making a socialist paradise and dragging the people along with him whether they want it or not. Controlling the media is the key to controlling the minds of the people and controlling education gives even stronger control over future generations. With all of this plus his new plan to change the Constitution so he can be President for Life, Chavez is well on his way towards creating an eternal autocracy with the same methods employed by Pol Pot, Kim il Sung and his mentor Fidel Castro.Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at IdiotWars.com.